Jokic dominates with triple-double as Nuggets edge Lakers in NBA season opener
LOS ANGELES – Nikola Jokic delivered a dominant triple-double performance as the Denver Nuggets launched the defense of their NBA championship crown with a season-opening 119-107 victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time).
On a night that saw Nuggets players receive their championship rings as the team raised its first banner in franchise history, Denver tipped off the 2023-2024 season with a display that suggested they will once again be one of the teams to beat.
The clash at the Ball Arena was a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals, which Denver swept 4-0 to reach the NBA Finals, where they emerged victorious against the Miami Heat.
Denver threatened to steamroll the Lakers early on, surging into an 18-point lead at the start of the second quarter as the Lakers struggled to contain two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic and Jamal Murray.
The Lakers, who strengthened their roster during the offseason with the additions of Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood amongst others, fought back during the second half to close the gap to just three points at 92-89 in the fourth quarter.
But Denver once again demonstrated their championship pedigree, pulling away whenever the Lakers appeared to be within striking distance to close out an impressive victory.
Serbian star Jokic finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists — his 106th career triple — as Denver showcased their formidable all-round offensive power once more.
All five Denver starters finished with double-digit points tallies.
Murray posted 21 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 20, while Aaron Gordon knocked down 15 and Michael Porter Jr. 12.
The Lakers' scoring meanwhile was led by James, who finished with 21 points, while new recruit Prince added 18, including four three-pointers.
Anthony Davis finished with 17 points but faded badly in the second half. All of Davis's 17 points came in the first half.
Austin Reaves (14) and D'Angelo Russell (11) also got into double figures for the Lakers.
The Nuggets-Lakers match-up was one of two season opening fixtures set for Tuesday. The later game sees the Phoenix Suns travel to the Golden