Nuggets pull away late to take commanding 3-0 series lead over Lakers


Jamal Murray scored 37 points, Nikola Jokic added 24 points and eight assists, and the Denver Nuggets took a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals with a 119-108 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. .

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half against his former team for the top-seeded Nuggets, who had never come this close to the NBA Finals in 47 years in the league.

Denver blew a big early lead in Game 3 but put together a decisive 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to snap the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak at home since March 26, including seven straight wins since it ended. the regular season.

No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoff series in NBA history. Game 4 is Monday night in Los Angeles.


Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to a play against Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second quarter of game three of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 20, 2023 in Los Angeles . California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, user is agreeing to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Anthony Davis had 28 points and 18 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who hadn’t lost three straight games since early February. Los Angeles’ prolonged and desperate rise since the trade deadline has finally run out of steam against the mighty Nuggets, who have won five straight playoff games.

LeBron James had 23 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds for Los Angeles, hitting three 3-pointers after starting the 0-of-13 series from distance. Austin Reaves added 23 points and seven rebounds, but Rui Hachimura was the only other Lakers scorer to break double figures with 13 points.

Jokic’s streak of four consecutive triple-doubles ended in a fairly quiet game for the two-time MVP. But Murray scored 17 points in a dynamic first quarter after his 23-point fourth quarter two nights ago, and he had 30 points at halftime of Game 3.

Bruce Brown scored 15 points and hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch for the Nuggets before Jokic nearly iced him on a 3-pointer with 3:17 to play.

Passionate Lakers fans turned out in droves for the 17-time champion franchise’s first conference finals games on home soil since 2010, the year of its last title. Los Angeles desperately tried to get back in the series, with James playing 43 minutes after spraining his left ankle in Game 2 on top of his already sore right foot.

But the Nuggets’ flight to the coast didn’t cool Murray in the slightest: After lighting up the Lakers to close out Game 2, the Canadian guard made his first five shots in Game 3 and scored 17 points in the first quarter. , even as Jokic went scoreless for the second straight quarter.

Mike Malone with Jokic and Murray

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, center, shakes hands with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and guard Jamal Murray (27) in the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference final series against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Murray’s fourth 3-pointer of the night made him 11-of-13 from the field for 26 points midway through the second quarter, scoring more than half of Denver’s points at an incredible pace. Reaves and Davis kept the Lakers in the game, with Reaves racking up 15 points, three assists and three rebounds in the second quarter alone.

Hachimura’s 3-pointer early in the quarter gave the Lakers their first lead since the opening minutes, but the Nuggets took over again on a play highlighted by Brown’s 3-pointer with 7:02 left, after which he taunted the Lakers bench with Los Angeles “Freeze” 3-point celebration.

D’Angelo Russell had another tough game for the Lakers, scoring three points on 1-for-8 shooting in 20 minutes. Russell was the Lakers’ biggest addition to their trade deadline transformation, but the point guard has just 21 points in this three-game series.

bruce brown three

Bruce Brown #11 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates after making a three-point basket during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in game three of the Western Conference Finals at Arena on May 20, 2023 in Los Angeles , california. (Harry How/Getty Images)



Nuggets: Aaron Gordon scored seven points in 32 minutes. Michael Porter Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds, capped by a 3-pointer in the final 90 seconds.

Lakers: Backup C Mo Bamba missed his ninth straight game with a sore left ankle. The team is hopeful that Bamba can play at some point in this series. Fans near the court included Jack Nicholson, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Jake Gyllenhaal, Andy Garcia, Dyan Cannon, Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty, and Khalil Mack, Derwin James and Sebastian Joseph-Day of the Los Angeles Chargers defense.

You may also like...