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Nikola Jokic
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NBA opening night review: Nuggets make major opening statement

The Denver Nuggets showed just why they are the current NBA champions, with a 119-107 victory in their opening night clash with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Denver’s Western Conference rivals, the Phoenix Suns, also got off to a winning start in what promises to be a thrilling NBA season.

All four teams in action on Tuesday scored 100+ points, highlighting their offensive threat, with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic again grabbing the headlines.

Jokic leads the way for Denver

Even though they were on their home court, an opening-night clash with the Lakers was always going to be a test for the defending champions, but the Nuggets highlighted their quality in victory.

Michael Malone’s men were handed their championship rings before the opener and that seemed to inspire them. The hosts scored 34 in the first quarter to put them in a strong position, with the Nuggets holding a nine-point advantage at half-time.

Despite a slight wobble in the third quarter, when the Lakers cut the deficit by two points, Denver racked up another 32 points in the fourth to run out 119-107 victors.

It was last season’s NBA Finals MVP who once again led the way, with Jokic landing 29 points, as well as 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Two other Nuggets stars caught the eye, with Canada’s Jamal Murray scoring 21 points, while the experienced Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in with 20.

Denver, +450 to win this season’s NBA Championship, now head off on the road with back-to-back games outside of Colorado, as they face the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, before taking on Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

King James shows good signs

Starting his 20th year in the NBA, LeBron James is looking for a fifth Championship ring and showed on opening night that he can still mix it with the best.

Now 38, the man from Ohio is coming towards the end of his illustrious career, but is still determined to lead the Lakers to another title.

LeBron top-scored for his side on Tuesday with 21 points, as well as collecting eight rebounds and five assists, to show he can still be one of the leading lights in the NBA.

Anthony Davis will need to stay fit if LA - +650 to win the Western Conference - are to challenge at the business end of the season and the center fired 17 points and eight rebounds against the Nuggets.

Post-season addition Taurean Prince looks set to be another key figure for the Lakers, with the former Minnesota Timberwolves small forward scoring 18 points after being handed 30 minutes of court time.

Booker ready to lead Suns forward

The Phoenix Suns have reached the play-offs in the last three seasons, but the franchise are still looking for their first NBA title.

They got the 2023-24 campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday, with a 104-108 victory on the road over the Golden State Warriors.

Frank Vogel’s squad took a 15-point lead into the break and looked well on course for victory, but, after a 21-point swing in the third quarter, Golden State hit the front going into the last 12 minutes.

Phoenix found another gear though and fired 28 points in the final quarter to secure an impressive opening win, with Devin Booker once again the star of the show.

The three-time NBA All-Star seems to have been around for decades, but he’s only 26 and he is arguably amongst the top-five players on recent form.

Booker, +1600 to be named Regular Season MVP, started the new campaign with 32 points, six rebounds and eight assists and outshone Steph Curry at the Chase Center.

With Kevin Durant, who scored 18 points on Tuesday, joining the Phoenix ranks in the summer, the Suns look to have the firepower capable of blowing away most teams in the league.

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