Pau Gasol had a game-high 36 points and 16 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant had 32 points, three rebounds, and two blocks as the Los Angeles Lakers destroyed the Denver Nuggets, 128-114.
Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 30 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. Allen Iverson chipped in 30 points, seven assists, and five rebounds before being ejected in the fourth quarter after picking up two quick technical fouls.
The contest began with the two teams playing a combination of tough defense and poor offense, as the first quarter ended 26-22 in favor of the Lakers.
The second period started with the Nuggets outscoring the Lakers, 25-14. The Lakers quickly stormed back, taking a 58-56 halftime lead.
The home team dominated the third period, outscoring the Nuggets 39-22.
In the fourth, Denver proved to be pesky, cutting the deficit within 10 several times. But Kobe showed why he's the MVP by scoring 18 points in the final period to ice the opposing team.
Sasha Vujacic and Vladmir Radomanovic also sank timely three pointers to prevent the squandering of the lead.
The Nuggets' bench accounted for 41 points, highlighted by Linas Kleiza's 23 points on 3-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Lakers' second unit only produced 34 points, with the majority of the production coming from Luke Walton, who had 16 points on 3-4 shooting from behind the arc.
After arguing with referee Joe Crawford out of pure frustration and the lack of calls, Allen Iverson was ejected, picking up the required two technical fouls in under 60 seconds with 2:10 remaining.
Ron Artest would've been a big help to the Nuggets, who assigned PF Kenyon Martin to defend Bryant in the second half. Martin struggled to defend Kobe in the final period. Obviously, it was a mistake.
Game two is Wednesday back at the Staples Center at 7:30 PM PST.