The 2023-24 NBA season has finally dawned, and the opening night featured thrilling matchups. The Los Angeles Lakers crossed paths with the Denver Nuggets in a highly-anticipated Western Conference Finals rematch, while Chris Paul and Kevin Durant went head-to-head against their former teams. Here’s a rundown of the winners and losers from the NBA’s first night of action.
Over the past three years, the NBA landscape has seen a shift. Anthony Davis, a perennial star, has grappled with injuries, while Nikola Jokic has steadily ascended to claim the mantle of the league’s premier center. Jokic’s remarkable journey culminated in two MVP awards and an NBA championship victory last year. On Tuesday night, however, it was Anthony Davis who momentarily reclaimed his status as one of the NBA’s elite big men. In the opening half, Davis showcased his prowess by notching an impressive 17 points.
Anthony Davis at Halftime:— ADmuse (@AD3muse) October 25, 2023
4-4 FT pic.twitter.com/wpxFw1GLIT
Jokic Dominates Second Half as Davis Goes Scoreless After halftime, Nikola Jokic took center stage, shutting down Anthony Davis while anchoring a formidable defense.
Intense Rivalries Renewed In an era of shifting alliances, genuine rivalries are a breath of fresh air. The Lakers and Nuggets, irked by past comments, faced off with intensity. The Warriors and Suns had their battles, fueled by Chris Paul’s old grudges, while Kevin Durant sought redemption.
Playoff-Style Intensity Both Denver and Los Angeles approached the game as if it were a playoff matchup, with Michael Malone strategically resting Jokic in short stretches.
Booker Overcomes Toe Woes Devin Booker, initially questionable with a toe injury, led the short-handed Suns with a game-high 32 points and eight assists against the Warriors.
Lakers Bench Woes The Lakers struggled when LeBron James was off the floor, with the bench providing minimal offensive production. James’ absence saw them outscored by 19 points in 19 minutes.
Steph Curry’s Foul Trouble The Golden State Warriors continued their problem with fouls, especially Steph Curry, who fouled out early in the fourth quarter, limiting his impact on the game.
Referee Hiccups Opening night featured a fair share of missed calls, with referees needing time to find their rhythm, resulting in various questionable decisions on the court.
JAMAL MURRAY LOBS IT UP TO AARON GORDON 🤯pic.twitter.com/jenafsDI5r— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) October 25, 2023
Aaron Gordon’s rim-hanging antics raised eyebrows, though typically expected post-dunk. Meanwhile, referees overlooked Reggie Jackson’s trip on LeBron and LeBron’s nose injury during another play, along with an apparent foul during Jamal Murray’s jumper.
refs in mid season form, Jamal Murray fouled on the 3, no call pic.twitter.com/tipvt96Pjx— Tedd Buddwell 🏀🏈 (@TedBuddy8) October 24, 2023
The outcome wasn’t determined by this, but suffice it to say, there were more questionable calls than at a Ying Yang Twins cover band performance.