The Denver Nuggets have made history by beating the odds this postseason, but they couldn’t overcome the Los Angeles Lakers and a second quarter full of whistles in Friday night’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
The Nuggets were called for 16 fouls in the second quarter, and Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap all were in foul trouble with three fouls each before halftime, as the Lakers went on to a 126-114 victory.
Denver entered the second quarter with a two-point lead, only to watch the Lakers go on a 17-1 run. During that stretch, Jokic picked up back-to-back fouls while trying to set a screen and had to go to the bench with 7:22 left with three fouls.
Murray could only chuckle when asked after the game about how the young Nuggets can adapt to the whistles in favor of the veteran-heavy Lakers squad.
“Just try to play through it,” Murray said. “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.
“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.”
The Nuggets, who became the first team to overcome 3-1 deficits and win in back-to-back series to get to the West finals, couldn’t overcome that Lakers run as Denver opened the second quarter shooting 0-for-6 from the field and turning the ball over six times. But nothing hurt the Nuggets more than Jokic falling into foul trouble.
“If you watched the game, you could tell,” Murray said when asked what happened during the Lakers’ run. “Yeah, if you watched the game, then you could tell.”
Jokic picked up his fourth personal foul less than a minute into the third quarter and would end up finishing with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes as the Lakers built a 27-point lead early in the fourth. Murray finished with 21 points and five assists.
The Nuggets watched the Lakers go to the line 37 times for the game, nine more than Denver did. But the Lakers made 24 of those trips to the line in the second quarter alone.
“Twenty-four times in a quarter, which is an extremely high number, on pace for almost 100,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We were called for 16 personal fouls in that quarter. And then on top of that, seven turnovers, again fueling their break.”
Malone said he has to watch the film to “see the fouls that are being called, why they’re being called, should they have been called.”
The coach said the Nuggets have to make Anthony Davis (37 points and 10 rebounds) feel them in Game 2 but without fouling.
“The calls aren’t always going to go your way, and you can’t complain about it,” Murray said. “I tried to learn that as a young player, and you just got to play through it. [The referees are] not trying to make the wrong call. They’re just out there doing their job.”
“I’m not going to sit here and just blame it on the refs,” Murray added. “That’s not what I’m doing. We just got to play through it and earn the respect.”
Toronto Raptors say they’ll cooperate with NBA investigation of alleged assault by Terence Davis
The team made its first public comment on the case in a statement Friday.
Davis faces several charges after police said he hit his girlfriend in the face during an argument at a Manhattan high-rise on Tuesday.
According to a criminal complaint, the woman’s son was standing next to her when Davis hit her, causing the child to fall.
“Incidents of this kind are addressed and managed by the league through the joint NBA-NBPA policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse,” the Raptors said.
“The Toronto Raptors take these issues very seriously, and we will fully cooperate and support the League in its investigation of this matter as we work to determine the appropriate next steps for our team.”
Davis’ attorney, Greg Esposito, has said his client denies the charges. Davis is free on his own recognizance and his next court date is set for Dec. 11.
Davis, a 23-year-old guard, played college basketball at Mississippi before joining the Raptors as an undrafted free agent before the start of the 2019-20 season. He averaged 7.5 points per game and was named to the league’s All-Rookie Second Team.
Michael Jordan’s race team unveils Bubba Wallace’s new ride
On Friday morning, the 23XI Racing team unveiled the long-anticipated news of its manufacturer and technical partner, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Chicago Bulls-esque red, white and black Toyota Camry featured Jordan’s No. 23 on the doors and the 23XI Racing team logo on the hood and quarter panels, hopefully to be replaced by sponsorship before the team makes its NASCAR Cup Series debut in less than four months at 2021 Daytona Speedweeks.
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) October 30, 2020
Lost in the excitement of seeing Michael Jordan’s car with Michael Jordan’s number was the real story, a technical alliance that gives MJ’s team — and its driver — a chance to compete.
Joe Gibbs Racing is the flagship organization of Toyota Racing Development and the team Hamlin has driven for throughout his 16-plus-year Cup Series career. The TRD relationship includes an agreement with JGR that allows 23XI Racing to purchase equipment and share technical information.
“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible,” Jordan said in a statement. “Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources and expertise to do it.”
“There’s no doubt that Bubba has outperformed the equipment he’s had, week in and week out,” Hamlin said on “CBS This Morning,” sitting alongside his driver — with both sporting Air Jordan sneakers — as he spoke of Wallace’s four seasons in the Chevys of Richard Petty Motorsports.
Then, referring to Wallace’s 2013-14 seasons in the Truck series driving for Kyle Busch, Hamlin added, “This is a great opportunity for him to return to the Toyota family, a family he was with early in his career, and it’s an exciting partnership for everyone.”
Added Wallace: “I’m still processing it every day. … I’ve just got to make sure I do my part and deliver each and every time out next year.”
Sources — Mike D’Antoni finalizing deal to join Steve Nash’s staff with Brooklyn Nets
Mike D’Antoni and is finalizing a deal to become an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets, reuniting him with his former MVP point guard, Nets coach Steve Nash, sources told ESPN.
The Nets are hiring D’Antoni and well-regarded assistant Ime Udoka, who spent seven of the past eight seasons on Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs, sources said.
Nash has constructed a strong coaching staff for his first season as a head coach, including associate head coach Jacque Vaughn. The Nets are expected to be among the league’s championship contenders with the return of Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn debut of Kevin Durant.
Udoka spent seven years as an assistant under Popovich with the Spurs, and the 2019-20 season as the top assistant with the Brett Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers. He’s been a candidate for several head coaching jobs in recent years.
For D’Antoni and Nash, this is the third time they’ll be together, including a memorable 2004-08 run with the Phoenix Suns that saw the birth of the Seven Seconds or Less Offense and the emergence of Nash as a Hall of Fame point guard in the system.
D’Antoni coached Nash on the Lakers (2012-2014) for a far less successful stretch after Nash’s body had been eroded by injury.
D’Antoni is one of the most successful and innovative coaches of this generation. He spent the past four years with the Houston Rockets before choosing to walk away without a contract extension at the end of the 2019-20 season.
D’Antoni was 217-102 in his four seasons as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals. D’Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the past four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.
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