For the primary time in 4 matchups, the Denver Nuggets took a sequence lead in opposition to the Los Angeles Lakers within the Western Convention Finals. Regardless of a late surge by the Lakers, the Nuggets survived due to a historic triple-double from Nikola Jokić.
Nonetheless, the loss solely served to make the Lakers hungrier. They’d seen how particular changes, particularly guarding Jokić with Rui Hachimura, had introduced them again into the sport. Moreover, LeBron, who’s 12-8 in playoff sequence the place he misplaced the primary sport, appeared to take the loss personally. Talking after the Warmth’s win over the Celtics, Shaq was assured sufficient to ensure a Recreation 2 win for LA.
Nuggets Edge One other Shut Recreation
The 2 sides got here to play on Thursday night time. The Lakers jumped out to a 6-0 begin, sustaining the deficit because the Nuggets started to attain. As soon as the Nuggets warmed up, the lead swung forwards and backwards earlier than the primary quarter closed at 27-27. As soon as once more, the Lakers obtained off to a greater begin, main by as a lot as 11 within the second quarter. Whereas the Nuggets had been in a position to shut the hole, the guests nonetheless led by 5 coming into halftime. Nonetheless, identical to in Recreation 1, it was a halftime adjustment that made all of the distinction. Regardless of trailing by as a lot as 13 within the third quarter, the Nuggets entered the ultimate interval down simply three. The Nuggets slowly started to take over, powered by Jamal Murray’s 23 fourth-quarter factors. The Lakers merely didn’t have a solution and watched their lead, and the sport, slip away as they misplaced 108-103.
Jamal Murray was the star of the present, placing up a 37-point double-double however coming in clutch, particularly within the fourth. Whereas not his common high-scoring self, Jokić nonetheless posted yet one more triple-double with 23 factors, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. That makes Jokić the primary participant within the historical past of the playoffs to have 4 consecutive triple-doubles of at the least 20 factors. Nonetheless, it was a horrible night time for three-point taking pictures (past Murray’s 6-for-14). The groups mixed for a dismal 22-for-68 from behind the arc, with the Lakers going simply 8-for-30. A part of this consists of LeBron’s persevering with development of ice-cold three-shooting within the fourth quarter throughout these playoffs. The Lakers veteran has now missed 19 consecutive fourth-quarter threes. Nonetheless, LeBron and Austin Reaves led the Lakers in scoring, each flattening 22 factors. The groups will now head to LA for Sunday’s Recreation 3.