The Sport Effect

Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic would welcome first-round playoff series vs. Lakers: “Why not?”

If the Nuggets draw the Lakers in the 1st spherical of the NBA playoffs, Nikola Jokic said he would welcome it. Embrace it even.

Even in the aftermath of Monday’s streak-snapping reduction at the Lakers, the Nuggets’ center was not dissuaded at the prospect of facing the reigning champions in a rematch of previous year’s convention finals.

“If it transpires, it transpires,” Jokic said. “Why not? If we want to gain it, we need to participate in with the finest. We are not likely to attempt to take care of anything.”

Monday’s ninety three-89 reduction tightened the margin in between the No. three Nuggets and No. four Clippers and momentarily nudged the Lakers into the No. five seed. All three teams have 7 games remaining. Only a activity separates the Lakers and the No. seven Trail Blazers, who are presently slotted for the participate in-in event.

Jokic had a activity-substantial 32 points but on just 12-of-28 capturing to pair with nine rebounds and 5 assists. Instead than blame a essential offensive foul simply call against Facundo Campazzo that most likely cost the Nuggets three points amid Denver’s comeback, Jokic took the blame for the reduction. The Nuggets fell to 1-2 on the year against the Lakers.

“I think the principal trouble, we did not shoot well,” he said. “Me 1st.”

The Lakers, even with no LeBron James, proved they are amid the teams finest-outfitted to cope with Jokic in a playoff collection. New acquisition Andre Drummond began the activity on Jokic (with small good results), but the Lakers quickly pivoted to former Defensive Participant of the Yr Marc Gasol, whose job had diminished because the Drummond addition.

“I think we all overlook who Marc Gasol is,” Jokic said of the just one-time NBA champion.

On various possessions, the Lakers tried using the a lot more actual physical option in forward Markieff Morris then showed a few possessions with Anthony Davis in the blend. The defensive potpourri worked in that Jokic was not almost as effective as he’s been all year and performed through foul issues for most of the second fifty percent.

With the Nuggets down 14 points with 6:09 remaining, Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. carried the Nuggets to the verge of a gripping comeback. The Nuggets minimize the margin to two points, twice, around the remaining 1:37 of regulation.

“We by no means give up,” Jokic said. “… We’re gonna attempt. We can battle. Which is one thing that no one can just take from us. I’m really very pleased of the men.”

To obstacle or not to obstacle? Nuggets coach Michael Malone hadn’t noticed the replay of Campazzo’s offensive foul on Anthony Davis by the time he fulfilled with media late Monday night time. He said he viewed as tough the simply call, but his assistants, who have to make a snap judgment right after seeing quick replay on an iPad, did not really feel the simply call would get transformed.

“Definitely viewed as it, but talked to our coaches powering the bench, and they said what the officials said, that Facu sort of took him out,” Malone said. “… Of course, was undoubtedly looking at tough it, but which is where by I believe in my coaches who are seeing the replay suitable powering the bench to give me the thumbs up or thumbs down, and they felt from their standpoint in seeing it that it would not have been overturned. Huge participate in … Those are the breaks.”

Ring night time: The Lakers requested JaVale McGee regardless of whether he wished them to mail him his championship ring from previous season’s title operate in the Bubble or present it to him when the schedule aligned. McGee said he wished admirers to be there for his 3rd championship ring.

Not only was it reached beneath hoping situation in Orlando, but McGee was the beginning center for the Lakers previous year, as an alternative of coming off the bench as he did for his two Warriors championships.