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Lakers’ Game 1 Loss to Nuggets Leads to Dwight Howard Revisiting Bubble Performance vs Nikola Jokic

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Lakers’ Game 1 Loss to Nuggets Leads to Dwight Howard Revisiting Bubble Performance vs Nikola Jokic

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ dreadful run against the Denver Nuggets continued as the LA side lost Game 1 of their first-round series against the reigning champions. The Lakers defense did well to contain guard Jamal Murray, who finished the game with 22 points on a dismal 9-of-24 shooting. But they, yet again, had no answers for the reigning Finals MVP, Nikola Jokic, who torched them with 32 points, on 65% shooting from the field, alongside dishing seven assists and grabbing 12 rebounds. The 103-114 loss at Ball Arena, the Lakers’ ninth straight against the Nuggets, prompted a lot of flak on social media. Former Lakers star Dwight Howard also joined in on the conversation with a throwback clip from the Lakers’ 2020 Championship campaign.

The Lakers have had a horrible time against Nikola Jokic and Co. over the last four campaigns. In 17 games since the start of the 2020-21 season, the Serbian superstar has averaged 26.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 9.4 assists against the LA side. The Lakers have a record of 13-4 over that span.

While Jokic has feasted against the Lakers since the start of the 2020-21 season, he had an underwhelming series against them in the 2020 Western Conference Finals. He averaged only 21.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists, a far cry from the near triple-double he has averaged against them since. The primary reason for Jokic’s lackluster performance was veteran Dwight Howard‘s exceptional defense against the Serbian center. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year troubled the Nuggets superstar with his physicality, chased him around the floor, and even talked trash to throw the Serbian off his game.


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A post shared by Dwight Howard (@dwighthoward)

Howard averaged around 15 minutes in the first three games of the series. But the Lakers’ coaching staff recognized that Jokic was uncomfortable playing against the veteran center and hence, upped Howard’s playing time to 23 minutes in Game 4 and 35 in Game 5. The move worked wonders. Jokic averaged 24.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the first three games, but managed only 18 points, seven rebounds, and 4.5 assists in the last two contests.

The Lakers are undoubtedly reminiscing about Howard’s exceptional performance against Jokic as they continue to try and fail to end their nightmarish run against the Serbian center and the Nuggets. Howard recently shared a clip of him and the Joker from that series to illustrate his worth on that LA team. Lots of Lakers fans showed their appreciation for the 38-year-old and even declared that the Lakers made a mistake getting rid of him.

Stephen A. Smith credited Dwight Howard for the Lakers’ series win against the Nuggets in 2020

Dwight Howard wasn’t only clamping Nikola Jokic on the offensive end, he also drew several fouls against the Nuggets center and softened up the Nuggets’ defensive setup in the paint, which enabled the Lakers players to attack the rim more. The Serbian center averaged 4.6 personal fouls per game during the series and was one mistake away from ejections in Games 1, 4, and 5.

Howard’s expert foul-baiting and stellar defense in Game 1 prompted ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith to declare the Lakers as series winners through three quarters.

The Lakers did go on to beat the Nuggets in five games before beating the Miami Heat in six in the NBA Finals to win the title. It likely wouldn’t have been possible without Howard’s sensational effort against Jokic in the Western Conference Finals and the Lakers wish they’d have a similar weapon to use against the Serbian center as they look to stop a 10-game losing streak against the Nuggets.

Post Edited By:Satagni Sikder

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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