DAVIS PACES LAKERS TO OPENING WIN
Anthony Davis had 37 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James added 15 points and 12 assists, and the Lakers rolled to a 126-114 victory against the Nuggets on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Slow starters in the previous two rounds, the top-seeded Lakers put this one away in a hurry, opening a double-digit lead in the first half that they extended in the third quarter.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 18 points and Dwight Howard rejoined the rotation with 13 in a powerful return to the conference finals for the Lakers, who hadn’t been to the NBA’s final four since winning their last championship in 2010.
The Lakers dropped Game 1 against both the Trail Blazers and Rockets before winning the next four games. The Lakers quickly knocked off any rust for another long layoff in the bubble against a Nuggets team that’s had things much tougher.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 21 points for the Nuggets, playing in the conference finals for the first time since the Lakers beat them in 2009.
Alex Caruso converted a three-point play to open the second and start a 17-1 surge by the Lakers to start the period and make it 5339 before the Nuggets made their first field goal after more than five minutes.
Heat strive to ‘stay humble’
Even though the Heat lead 2-0 in their Eastern Conference finals series against the Celtics, All-NBA forward Jimmy Butler is taking nothing for granted going into Game 3 on Saturday night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“We haven’t done anything. We haven’t,” Butler said. “We can’t get excited that we’re up 2-0 because as good as it is to be 2-0, it could easily be 4-2 Boston. So, we’re going to come into the same way knowing that we’ve got to be better and stay humble about it.”
The Celtics might welcome Gordon Hayward — who hasn’t played in a month because of a bad ankle — back on Saturday.
Giannis earns his second MVP
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s historic year earned him a historic awards sweep. The Bucks forward is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, receiving that award. He got the Defensive Player of the Year award earlier in these NBA playoffs. Antetokounmpo, 25, becomes the third player in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. ✶
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (37 points and 10 rebounds) shoots over the Nuggets’ Paul Millsap (bottom front) and Nikola Jokic (right) during the series opener Friday.