NBA Playoffs: Nuggets Beat Lakers 114-103

The defending champion Denver Nuggets got their playoffs underway with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-103. It was the team’s ninth consecutive win over the Lakers, which includes a sweep in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in a trademark performance, while Jamal Murray had a 22 point and 10 assist double-double. All five of the Nuggets starters ended up in double figures but the bench only had 17 points.

For the Lakers, Anthony Davis led the way with 32 points and 14 rebounds. The big-man also had 4 blocks and was clearly a force in the paint. Lebron James scored 27 points on 10-16 shooting but had 7 turnovers, more than the whole Nuggets team combined.

The Lakers also had a weak bench performance, with Taurean Prince the only bench player to score for Los Angeles. The Lakers shot 49.4% from the field compared to the 46.1% by the Nuggets but took 23 less shots.

The Lakers got off to a hot start with Lebron scoring 19 in the first half but couldn’t keep up the pace as the game wore on. The Nuggets limited James to just nine points in the second half and didn’t allow him to even take a shot in the fourth quarter until just 1:20. Even though Lebron has an efficient night shooting, the turnover and inability to get this shot off cost LA down the stretch.

The Nuggets had a total of 15 offensive rebounds which got them 18 second-chance points. This was 10 more than the Lakers, who only managed just the six offensive boards. The Nuggets starters also only had one turnover compared to the 12 from the Lakers.

The Lakers haven’t beaten the Nuggets since Dec. 16, 2022. They’ll take another shot on Monday night in Game 2 at Ball Arena.

Timberwolves Dominate Suns in 120-95 Victory

Anthony Edwards scored 33 points, 18 of which came in the 3rd quarter to lead his team to a 120-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of their first round series.  

Karl-Anthony Towns added 19 points and Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 18 points to help carry the offensive load. Rudy Gobert was once again a force in the lane, scoring 14 points while picking up 16 rebounds and was constantly altering shots on drives from Suns players.

Kevin Durant was the one bright spot for the Suns, dropping 31 points on 11-for-17 shooting. The two other stars, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal had 18 and 15 points respectively but were inefficient from the floor. 

The sixth-seeded Suns won all three regular-season matchups against the third-seeded Wolves, giving them confidence in the matchup. This however didn’t play into Game 1, as the Timberwolves looked like the superior team by quite a distance on Saturday. 

Game 2 will be in Minneapolis on Tuesday before the best-of-seven series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3. If the Suns are looking to turn the series around, they will need Booker and Beal to play a bigger part in the offense. 

Knicks Win Game 1 in Madison Square Gardens

Surprise hero, Deuce McBride, led a huge effort by the New York Knicks bench to secure a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Jalen Brunson scored 22 points but it was McBride’s 21 points which was the difference in the game. Josh Hart also had a number of clutch 3 pointers in the final few minutes to help put his team on top. 

Embiid finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists and Tyrese Maxey led the 76ers in scoring with 33 points. Tobais Harris had a subpar game with only 7 points, while the Philadelphia bench matched him for only 7 points in total.

The series will have one more game at Madison Square Gardens where the KNicks have been looking good this season. Embiid and the Sixers however will be looking to steal a agame before heading to Philadelphia where they hold a 25-16 record.