1.You can’t beat the Lakers when… From a physicality standpoint, Game 1 felt like the varsity (Lakers) against the freshmen (the Nuggets). And every time one of the varsity mugs ran over somebody or threw an elbow, the referees got awfully quiet. Whenever the kids got a little chippy, the whistles came flying. The Lakers’ 32 trips to the free-throw line in the first half were the third-most ever for an opening two quarters in NBA postseason history. Ridiculous.
2. Mid-game blues. Felt a little like that opening tilt in the Clippers series didn’t it? The Nuggets started strong, matching the top seed’s intensity for a quarter and change — and then fell apart and never got off the mat again. Los Angeles outscored Denver 67-41 in quarters 2 and 3, stretches of the game that belonged to the Nuggets during their stunning comeback against L.A.’s other club. In the second stanza, Denver turned it over seven times and committed 10 fouls.
3. Dwight Howard makes us miss Jordan Clarkson. Remember how Clarkson couldn’t stop coming off the Jazz bench and getting under your skin? That’s Howard’s role in this series, only the skin he’s getting under is Nikola Jokic’s. Once Superman entered the game, the Joker was all over the place, picking up three fouls by the early part of the second quarter and looking entirely out of sync, even by Big Honey standards. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ 34-year-old big man finished with 13 points and two blocks.