Lakers fall, but confident in 2nd-half adjustments-News

DENVER — LeBron James He left the court after Lakers132-126 Game 1 death on Tuesday for Denver Nuggetshe closed his eyes, threw his head back and let out the words, “Oh my god,” just as Los Angeles was about to steal the opening game of the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers, who trailed by more than 21, outscored by 17 and allowed Denver to score 72 points at halftime — the most LA defense has allowed in every half of the postseason — but had a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer by James from the top of the key that missed with seconds left. 45.2 left in the fourth.

The Nuggets proved they were the West’s No. 1 seed. 1 for a reason, and two MVPs Nikola Jokic write a bright night with 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists and two blocks, and Jamal Murray scoring 31 on a perfect 12-for-20 clip.

But the Lakers once again showed how they were able to move on Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors so far in these playoffs, with several changes by coach Darvin Ham to pay in the second half, which, together with a strong effort from Anthony Davis (40 points on 14-of-23 shooting, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks), gave them a real shot.

to protect, Rui Hachimura switched to Jokic, allowing Davis to roam as the defensive back line.

“You have to switch matchups sometimes and you have to switch coverages,” Ham said. “He’s given us a chance to get back in the game.”

In Denver’s 55 possessions when Davis was the last point guard on Jokic, the Nuggets scored 1.45 points per game and shot 66% from the field, according to ESPN Stats & Information. There was a big difference with Hachimura as the last defender on Jokic: Denver scored only 0.67 points in 15 games and shot 20% from the field.

“I think it’s going to be big for me this series because it’s so big, and we want to grow,” said Hachimura, who added 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting from his defense. “I think it will be fine.”

Hachimura said he was prepared by Lakers coaches to expect Jokic’s work at times during the series. He’s big in his own right at 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, but he said to gain an advantage over the 6-11, 284-pound Jokic, he tried to plant his weight on Jokic’s knee to slow down the big man’s movement. .

Offensively, L.A. hunted Murray as James introduced pick-and-rolls, and the 20-year-old veteran was efficient, scoring 15 of his 26 points and tallying nine assists after the break.

“It’s got to be part of it and our attacking plans,” Ham said of James who led the charge in the second half. “Murray was in bad shape, so that was the target we tried to go to.”

With the Lakers trailing in the series for the first time in the postseason, several team leaders expressed confidence in where their team is at.

“We’ll be fine,” Ham said. “Trust me.”

Added James: “We’ll be fine. We know we didn’t play up to our potential in the first half. … But you know we’ll be fine in Game 2, that’s for sure.”

With the Nuggets and starting 6-10 Michael Porter Jr. and 6-8 Aaron Gordon aside from Jokic — not to mention 6-5 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and 6-4 Murray in the backcourt – the opening change of Game 2 having the size of Hachimura on the floor from the opening end looked like an obvious play for Ham.

What’s not clear is who came from LA from behind in Game 1 – 6-1 Dennis Schroder and 6-4 D’Angelo Russell — it makes sense to come off the bench.

Russell — who shot just 4-for-11 and played just nine minutes in the second half after registering a minus-23 in 17 first-half minutes — could be considered; However, multiple team sources told ESPN that there is concern that the team could “lose” the 27-year-old point guard if they see the move as a step down after starting any other games after this season. Schroder has already shown that he can be comfortable as a substitute, as he did not start until Game 6 against Golden State. Russell got up to shoot more after the game on the field while still in uniform.

For the first time in all the playoffs, the 7-seeded Lakers feel like the bottom, and think about what will take even the series instead of playing with the series.

“In the postseason, it doesn’t matter if you cut one or you’re down 20, if you lose, you lose,” James said. “They’re 1-0, and we’ve got to come back and be desperate going into Game 2. We’ve got to play well, we’ve got to come back well. … We’ve got to be better in all aspects of the game.”

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