The Los Angeles Lakers dominated the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in almost every facet.
Despite an excellent first quarter from Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, L.A. won by 12 with the result rarely in doubt. One of the storylines of Game 1 was foul trouble, as the Nuggets found themselves there for the entire game.
Especially in the first half, when the Lakers shot over 30 free throws and multiple Denver players had three fouls. Murray, who has become the emotional leader of the Nuggets throughout these playoffs, spoke about controlling what they can control when it comes to foul calls.
“Just try to play through it. It’s tough. They want to talk about every call and have full conversations and try to manipulate what happens, but you can’t worry about it,” he said. “We know how it’s going to be. We know we’re the younger team. We’re just going to play through it. We’re going to find a way and we’re not going to go away so easy.”
He also said the team must “earn the respect” of the referees in a series against the more veteran and physical Lakers.
“Respect is earned in every aspect. With your play, with how you talk to the referees. I always try to be as respectful as I can when I go to talk to them. You can ask every single one of them, but it’s something you can’t focus on,” Murray added.
“The calls aren’t always going to go your way and you can’t complain about it. I tried to learn that as a young player and you just got to play through it. They’re not trying to make the wrong call. They’re just out there doing their job. I’m going to miss shots and they’re going to miss calls, or I might make a bad pass and they might make a bad call. It’s just going to happen.
“But like I said, just don’t overreact. Keep playing through it and we’ll be all right. I’m not going to sit here and just blame it on the refs. That’s not what I’m doing. We just got to play through it and earn the respect.”
Murray’s comments are definitely a borderline complaint; however, his sentiment is correct. The Lakers are a veteran team who naturally plays a more physical style of basketball. In the Western Conference Finals, the Nuggets are going to have to learn to adapt to that instead of the other way around.
Game 1 showed that the Nuggets may not know how to play physical basketball without fouling. They’ll have to learn very quickly if they want to stay alive in this series.
Lakers big men erase Jokic in Game 1
Jokic had the series of a lifetime against the L.A. Clippers, a team that lacked physicality in the paint. However, the Lakers play a much different style, one that Jokic is going to have to adapt to.
In what was likely his worst postseason game thus far, Jokic had just 21 points, six rebounds and two assists to go along with four turnovers and five fouls.
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