The Los Angeles Lakers took the lead in the Western finals, after beating the Denver Nuggets in Game 1, 126-114.
The deciding part of the match was the second period, when purple and gold had 24 free throws, and both Jokic and Murray picked up three fouls during that period. The Nuggets’ players were furious with the referees’ decisions.
After an even first period, where Denver had a 38-36 lead, came the second quarter in which the referees drastically changed the criteria of the match. The Nuggets would get 16 fouls, by far the most in the league this year. It is something that didn’t happen in the playoffs since 2015.
Jokic had two offensive fouls, Murray was picking up some questionable defensive, and Paul Milsap also ended the half with three fouls.
LAL would use the situation in their advantage to make a 17-1 series, which definitely changed the course of the match. They felt more relaxed, while on the other side, the Nuggets were frustrated, and they couldn’t put together a few consecutive attacks to regain confidence.
In the end, 70-59, which was the result at the halftime, wasn’t that bad. But as soon as the second half started, Jokic got a fourth foul, and that was it for Denver’s chances to win this one.
The Joker played just 25 minutes, scoring 21 points with six boards, and shooting 8-for-14 from the field. Murray spent four minutes more on the floor, with the same number of buckets, and five assists, with 7-for-12 from the floor.
Michael Porter Jr was the only other player in the Nuggets with a double-digit number of points, 14, adding 10 boards and four assists.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone on FT disparity in Lakers’ Game 1 blowout win: “They went to the foul line 24 times in one quarter. 24 times in a quarter, which is an extremely high number. On pace for almost 100. And we were called for 16 personal fouls in that (second) quarter.” pic.twitter.com/25IemkTgfC
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 19, 2020
On the other side, Anthony Davis was monstrous with 37 points and 10 boards, with four assists, 12-for-21 from the field, and 12-for-15 on free throws. LeBron had 15 points and 12 dimes with six boards, shooting 6-for-11.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played a very good game, delivering 18 points, hitting three threes, while Dwight Howard neutralized Jokic, drawing fouls from the Serbian center. Howard scored 13 points in 16 minutes, going to the lane eight times and making five hits while missing one of five shots from the game.
Kyle Kuzma had 11 points, Rajon Rondo 7, with nine assists.
Game 2 is this Sunday.
This was clearly a controversial contest with the opinions divided. What do you think, did the refs help the Lakers win this one or no? Tell us in the comments below.