5 Key Points from Lakers-Nuggets on a Memorable Ring Night in Denver

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5 Key Points from Lakers-Nuggets on a Memorable Ring Night in Denver
ADENAV A The Denver Nuggets did a lot of heavy lifting on Tuesday as their official 2022–23 title defence got underway.

Before tipoff, they heightened expectations for a repetition 48 minutes later after raising the championship rings in the air to demonstrate their shine.

For championship victors, an opening night victory is such a small sample size for a season that lasts until June. However, every trip begins somewhere, and the Nuggets could not do better than to start this against the Lakers.

That evening in Ball Arena was exciting and really pleasurable. In case anybody forgot, the Nuggets defeated the club they thrashed in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, showcased more of Nikola Jokic's incredible talent, and alerted the league.

Here are five things to remember from the Nuggets' 119-107 victory, including the reason the home crowd sent the Lakers home with a trolling serenade with one minute left and the game already over.

1. It's no joke: Nikola Jokic continues to rule the Lakers.

He owned them in the first game and mowed them down in the playoffs last spring. Jokic treats everyone in this way, so the Lakers shouldn't take it personally, but this is an issue.

This is due to the fact that the Lakers continuously blocked Anthony Davis's route, one of the best and most adaptable defenders in the league, and it made no difference. Jokic played what amounted to a continuous flex, recording a 29-13-11 triple-double.

The Denver centre, a previous two-time Kia NBA MVP, is still the toughest player in the West, if not the whole league, till further notice. He will likely be the conduit for any title, but it won't be simple. Jokic dispelled any idea that his lack of basketball during the summer would cause rust as he made finger rolls, 3-pointers, and streaked around the boards on Tuesday.

Although Jamal Murray (21 points) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20 points) had strong games, Jokic was the focus of Game 1. The Nuggets' lead, which was originally 18 points, shrank to four as he took a seat in the fourth quarter. This was "The Joker" returning to the MVP debate, or rather, remaining there.

2. LeBron James's gentle counterpunch (and minutes)

James created the sense in the days before the game that the Nuggets were overly arrogant (more on this later) and that he would have something to say on the court.

Oh my. James led the Lakers in scoring with 21 points, but oddly enough, he caused no harm and never assisted the team in taking the lead in the second half. And there were occasions when I felt nauseous. His initial 3-point effort struck the backboard's side. Christian Braun had blocked his shot. And on a corner 3-pointer, Reggie Jackson trod on his foot, causing him to stumble.

More intriguingly, LeBron only played 29 minutes. It appears that this is the current plan for a guy who will turn 39 in December. The Lakers and head coach Darvin Ham have the long term in mind, especially in light of the new regulations that forbid load management.

"It's true that I always want to be on the floor, especially when there's a chance to win a game or I feel like I can have an impact, but I suppose there is a system in place, and I will adhere to it," James responded.

Thus, rather than making a declaration, Year 21 started with a whimper. As difficult as it may be to accept, he will eventually regress because everyone does—even Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and others. This year, is it?

3. You know the "Sons" are playing in Phoenix?

"Who's your daddy?" Nuggets supporters chanted to make a point. The Nuggets have now defeated the Lakers in five straight games, going all the way back to the 2023 West Finals. This was clearly meant as encouragement for head coach Michael Malone's zinger.

However, it went beyond that. Davis stated earlier in the month that "LeBron and I had some conversations" regarding the Nuggets' title parade and that "we can't wait" for Tuesday.

That whole non-controversy over the Nuggets' alleged hatred of the Laker team stems from that season's sweep. Malone was annoyed that the Lakers were getting too much attention on all the sports talk shows he seemed to watch.

Malone declared: "If anybody is still talking about the Lakers, that's on them" during the Finals. They are now fishing.

Not a single word of that conversation was nasty. However, sportsmen want inspirational content, whether authentic or manufactured, therefore the Lakers adopted that as a rallying cry. However, the intended occasion—ring night—lacked glitz. Furthermore, the Lakers are still looking for solutions on how to defeat the Nuggets.

4. The Lakers have a "problem" with depth.

Rob Pelinka was the most diligent general manager from February till now. With a few trades, signings, and Draught selections, he altered the rotation. The Lakers go at least ten deep as a consequence.

But who is deserving of a game? The Lakers are still adjusting to the influx of new players. Ham has his hands and clipboard full, but there are still 81 games to establish a rotation for. The following players have contracts or extensions: Christian Wood, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, and Jaxson Hayes. Jarred Vanderbilt, the big guy, also received an extension, but he was out on Tuesday due to injury.

Bad news, eh? None mattered against Denver, and the most were incorrect. For the sake of the Lakers, Vincent (3-for-8 shooting, minus-17 overall) and the others, better nights are ahead. In order to keep James and Davis healthy and fresh, they need depth in Los Angeles to lessen the workload.

5. Welcome the upcoming season

The NBA's real dynasty? That's the jeweller Jason from Beverly Hills, who has now made five of the last six championship rings. The Nuggets' ring is especially "rocky," laden with gold and glitter, of course, to symbolise the city and the things that made it renowned over a century ago.