Malone: Lakers’ strategy on Jokic nothing new-News

DENVER — Like Nuggets watched film of their Game 1 win Los Angeles Lakershe saw what he had seen before.

If the Lakers are to be believed they may have found a defensive wrinkle in the lineup Rui Hachimura on Nikola Jokic like they did in the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Nuggets said they know exactly how to handle the process, having seen it as recently as the first round against Minnesota Timberwolves.

“A lot [is being] they made them and put Rui Hachimura on Nikola Jokic,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said after the team’s film session Wednesday. “Like we’ve never seen before.”

The Nuggets have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals after Jokic had three consecutive triple-doubles with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists to go with two blocks. Jokic hit 12 of his first 15 shots and had 31 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists at the end of the third quarter.

But the Lakers put the 6-foot-8 Hachimura over the 6-foot-11 Jokic, allowing Anthony Davis to paint, Jokic was limited in the fourth quarter to three points on 0-of-2 shooting with two rebounds and two assists while making two turnovers.

This, along with scoring 72 points in the second half, allowed the Lakers to reduce the deficit from 21 to three times late in the fourth quarter. So even though the Nuggets made a great play to take Game 1, there was a feeling that the Lakers came out of the game with strength and maybe a defensive strategy that worked for Jokic.

“There are discussions of this kind [on that] even though the Lakers lost, they’re leaving here, thinking they’ve got something,” Malone said. “I’ll bet you every red dollar I’ve got that Darvin Ham would rather be 1-0 than down 0. -1.

“So to be able to watch a video after a win and show all the things we didn’t do well is really hard to live with.”

The Nuggets say they will be ready to go against the Lakers if they decide to put Hachimura over Jokic again.

He also said that he has seen similar trends from Golden State Warriorswho used it Draymond Green as a type of free safety from Jokic in the first round last year; from Philadelphia 76erswho put PJ Tucker on Jokic at times to free him Joel Embiid; and in Minnesota, who tried to allow it Rudy Gobert floated in the paint in the first round last month.

“As a team, we’ve looked at everything there is to see how teams can try to protect Nikola,” the Nuggets player said. Michael Porter Jr. he said. “It might surprise us a little at the end of the second half, but looking at the film, I don’t think it will be a problem for us. The next thing we know is how to counter when they stopped AD. The ball and AD are moving around a little bit, they open up some things in the back, so we just have to do it. “

One possible option for the Nuggets would be to spread things out with shooters and move Aaron Gordon around. The Nuggets have made a point in the football game where Gordon is in the dunker position 86 times this season, according to an ESPN Stats & Information survey. The Nuggets have scored 1.30 points per direct election, exceeding the postseason league average of 1.01. He scored eight points in four basketball games as Jokic matched Davis and Gordon at the dunker spot.

However, in the five games that Gordon was in the dunker position and Jokic was protected by a small player and Davis was roaming, the Nuggets did not score a single point in Game 1.

Davis said he must be willing to handle the challenge of guarding Jokic or move around defensively but remain consistent with Gordon.

“That’s why they pay me so much,” Davis said. “I have to figure it out. And I have to help everybody. That’s my job on this team, to help everybody defensively, to protect guys.”

For the Lakers, they will have to try to open it D’Angelo Russellwho scored only eight points and did not play in the fourth quarter.

Nuggets guard Bruce Brown he said one of the team’s goals was to “make it difficult” for Russell on the defensive end and “just go to him” on the offensive end.

“We attacked them, we took D-Lo out of the game,” Brown said of Denver’s opening game. “That was our goal, to get him involved in everything.”

Brown added: “He’s not the best defender, but he’s trying. So just try to fight with his feet.”

Above all, the Nuggets are planning to get the Lakers off to a good start in Game 2 after falling behind 30-14 in the first eight minutes on Tuesday night.

“We gave them confidence, we let them get back into the game,” Brown said. “Then we’re going to go out and punch them in the mouth first.”

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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