Well, that went pretty much as expected. To no one’s surprise, reigning champion Nikola Jokic put down a triple-double in Denver to defeat a team he just swept in last season’s Western Conference Finals. Finishing the night with a 119-107 victory, Jokic had 29 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, one block, and 3-5 made three-pointers. His pick-and-roll partner, Jamal Murray, added 21 points; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 20 points and three steals; and Michael Porter Jr. earned a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. “I think we controlled the game the whole time,” Jokic told reporters. Throughout the game, Nuggets fans allegedly chanted “Who’s your daddy?” 

The big question for LeBron James and the Lakers going into this opening night game was whether or not they added enough help on defense to handle Jokic. Alongside starting center Anthony Davis (6’10”), LA now also has Rui Hachimura (6’8”), Jaxson Hayes (7’0”), and Christian Wood (6’8”). It hardly mattered. Jokic took them all to the paint and was able to get the ball in the hoop. LeBron James complained after the game that he played five less minutes than he usually does, according to ESPN—even though the new additions to LA’s roster were largely brought on to aid the 38-year-old star from being overworked in his 21st season in the NBA. Still, he begrudgingly accepted that, “I guess there’s a system in place and I’ll follow it.” 

Much like Denver, all of LA’s starters also scored in double digits. LeBron James led with 21 points, eight rebounds, and 10-16 shooting. New starter Taurean Prince was second with 18 points and four made three-pointers, while Anthony Davis had 17 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. “We were trending in the right direction for a while there,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told reporters. “Each quarter we had given up less and less and then they just kind of blew the game open.”

Before the game, Denver was also presented with their championship rings and stadium banner. Jokingly, a mic’d-up Murray told Aaron Gordon that he, “might play the first quarter with it!” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone also paid respects to his late father, Brendan Malone, who passed away at the age of 81 just this past month. A legendary basketball coach in his own right, Brendan Malone was integral to the infamous “Bad Boys” defense of the Detroit Pistons in the late 1980’s and early ‘90s. “Just wish he was here,” Malone told reporters. “So, a lot of emotions tonight but all really positive… and to end it with a win is a great way to start the season off.”