LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers lost 132-126 to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, their first Game 1 loss of the 2023 NBA Playoffs — and the King says his team will be better in Game 2.

“They’re up 1-0 and we have to come back with desperation going into Game 2,” James said after the game, according to ClutchPoints’ Michael Corvo. “We’ll be better. We know we didn’t play up to our capabilities in the first half. But you know we’ll be better in Game 2, that’s for sure.”

To do that, they’ll have to neutralize Nikola Jokic, who looked like the best basketball player in the world on Tuesday night. He put together an outrageous statline in the Nuggets first Western Conference Final game since 2020 against these same Lakers, scoring 34 points with 21 rebounds and 14 assists in the victory.

James finished the game with 26 points, 12 boards and nine assists. He scored the first basket of the game on a layup early in the first quarter, and Los Angeles didn’t lead again after that.

Denver led by as many as 21 points, but LA pulled within three points twice in the fourth quarter, including on a pair of James free throws that made it 129-126 with 1:12 remaining.

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But that’s as close as the Lakers would get on Tuesday night.

“Yeah, it took us a half to get into the game,” LeBron said, “and that was pretty much the ballgame right there. They punched us in the mouth to start…I know the game is won in 48 minutes, but they set the tone in 24 minutes and we were playing catch-up for the next 24.”

Game 2 is set for Thursday night at Ball Arena, a place the No. 1 seeded Nuggets are 7-0 in the postseason and 41-7 overall this season, the best home record in the league in 2022-23.

It’s a tough place to win, and LeBron James and his Lakers vow to be better as they try to avoid falling down 2-0 in the series.