Nikola Jokic had 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists, Jamal Murray scored 31 points, and the host Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 132-126 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 21 points, Bruce Brown had 16, Michael Porter Jr. added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Aaron Gordon finished with 12 points for the Nuggets.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Denver.
Anthony Davis had 40 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, Austin Reaves scored 23 and Rui Hachimura put up 17 points for the Lakers.
Los Angeles trailed by 21 in the third quarter but chipped away at the deficit, getting within three points three times in the final four minutes. Denver responded by scoring the next points each time.
The Lakers opened the fourth on an 8-2 run to pull within 108-100 with 10:10 left.
Porter and Jeff Green hit corner 3-pointers and Murray scored on consecutive possessions to make it 118-104.
Los Angeles got within 124-118 with 3:53 left, and a Nuggets turnover led to a Reaves 3-pointer that made it a three-point game. Denver got the margin back to six, but another Reaves 3-pointer made it 127-124 with 2:18 left.
James had a chance to tie with 45 seconds left but missed a 3-point attempt, and Jokic closed it out at the line.
Denver used a 36-13 edge in rebounding to take a 72-54 lead into halftime. Jokic had 12 rebounds in the first quarter and finished with 16 for the half to go along with 19 points and seven assists.
Murray hit a pair of 3-pointers at the start of the third, giving the Nuggets a 78-58 lead. Jokic notched his triple-double when he fed Caldwell-Pope for a floating jumper midway through the third quarter. It is his 12th postseason triple-double, the most by a centre in NBA history.
Jokic put the Nuggets ahead 93-72 with a 3-pointer and fed Caldwell-Pope for another before Los Angeles closed the third strong. The Lakers went on a 16-7 run, but Jokic drained a 28-footer at the quarter buzzer to make it a 14-point game entering the fourth.
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