Lake Buena Vista, US, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- Center Anthony Davis posted a double-double of 37 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers easily defeated the Denver Nuggets 126-114 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference final series at the Advent Health Arena on Friday.
David, who was playing in the Western Conference finals for the first time, also handed four assists in his 33 minutes of play.
Star forward LeBron James, who just hours earlier lost the Most Valuable Player Award once again to Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, claimed another double-double of 15 points and 12 assists.
The Lakers, who had begun the two previous playoffs, against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets, with losses, were superlative, setting the pace of the game and controlling the score from the very first minute.
The team’s superiority was evident in the halftime score of 70-59, a lead they had widened to 24 by the end of the third quarter with the score at 103-79, which more or less decided the fate of the game.
“We haven’t done anything special. We took care of home court but we have three more to go,” Davis said in an on-court interview after the game.
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 18 points and veteran Dwight Howard returned to the rotation with 13 points in a strong comeback to the Western Conference finals with the Lakers, who hadn’t been to the NBA’s final four since winning their last championship in 2010.
Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo handed nine assists to give him 1,025 in the playoffs, overtaking Michael Jordan (1,022) for the 10th spot on the NBA’s career list.
Serbian center Nikola Jokic and Canadian point guard Jamal Murray made 21 points each to lead the scoring for the Nuggets, who are in their first Conference finals since the Lakers defeated them in 2009.
“I think we’re just going to adjust the pace. Even after made baskets…we just have to be better. We’ll just come back and be better and try to be more physical. Try to hit them early [in style of play], try to get on a run and push the pace in our favor,” Murray said.
Denver overcame a 1-3 deficit against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the first team to do so twice in the same playoffs.
Game 2 will be played at the same venue on Sunday. EFE-EPA