The LA Lakers found themselves in a precarious position after two games of the Western Conference Finals. Despite playing dominantly through the first two rounds of the playoffs, they had seemingly met their match in the Denver Nuggets.
via: NBC Sports
Entering the night down 0-2 in the series, this was a game the Lakers had to have, and everything set up for them through three quarters — Nikola Joki? struggled and was in foul trouble, and Los Angeles survived a Jamal Murray onslaught in the first half, and the Lakers were getting the ball inside and winning the points in the paint battle.
It didn’t matter.
Denver executes better and did it down the stretch. They have shooters everywhere and they trust each other and the system. And when they need it, they have the two-time MVP Joki? who had 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the fourth.
Denver pulled away in the final 12 minutes to win Game 3 119-108 and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
With one more win, the Nuggets will advance to the franchise’s first NBA Finals (they did make the ABA Finals in 1976). Game 4 is Monday night at the Crypto.com Arena.
The first half was the Jamal Murray show.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was Lakers 20, Jamal Murray 17. However, throw in the other Nuggets and Denver was up by a dozen. The Lakers did not come out with the urgency expected of a team in a must-win game but Murray did. He had 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting — including 4-of-8 from 3 — in the half.
Jamal Murray explodes for 30 points in the 1st half, finishing with 37 for the 2nd straight game!
The @nuggets now hold a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. pic.twitter.com/eLmpj3keXq
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2023
Still, the Lakers only trailed by three at the half thanks to a late 14-4 run. It looked like they had weathered the storm.
The Lakers had the advantage of an off Joki? game through three quarters. Joki? went to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:24 remaining in the third, but the Lakers were only +3 the rest of the quarter. The Nuggets still led by two heading into the fourth. That was a win for Denver.
The Lakers hung around, but the Nuggets sat Gordon to keep shooters on the floor and that clicked in the fourth — plus the Lakers shooters struggled. Denver won the fourth 22-16 and with it the game.
Murray finished with 37, Joki? had 25, Bruce Brown had 15 off the bench and Michael Porter Jr. poured in 14.
Anthony Davis had 28 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Lakers. Both LeBron James and Austin Reaves scored 23.
The series continues in LA on Monday.
And well that'll do it. Yeah ok sure no team has ever come back from being down 0-3 but gotta be a first time for everything right fellas? Why not y'all? I still believe! Let's get back to it game 5! One game at a time! pic.twitter.com/OeglLtLDaj
— ??America Is Musty?? (@DragonflyJonez) May 21, 2023
Lakers fans knowing they have nothing for the Nuggets going down 0-3 pic.twitter.com/YPZBs59qe9
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) May 21, 2023
Laker fans watching Nuggets go on a 13-0 run in the 4th pic.twitter.com/tGuxTjvVmU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 21, 2023
Nuggets fans realizing this is all a setup for the LeBron documentary https://t.co/2lr9tTpGZ9 pic.twitter.com/o8pEvoH66Y
— Old NBA Tweets (@oldnbatweetz) May 21, 2023
Nikola Joki? and his brother embrace after the Nuggets go up 3-0 in the series ? pic.twitter.com/gDGkTUBE52
— ESPN (@espn) May 21, 2023