Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — The Lakers was feeling pretty good with a 2-0 lead in the series, their mission is to hurry up and finish the Nuggets quickly as possible.
But if you know anything about Denver you knew that they was not going to go away quietly and without a fight.
“Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go,” coach Michael Malone said. “For some reason we love this bubble.”
Jamal Murray had 28 points, 12 assists and two late 3-treys to squash a Lakers comeback, helping the Nuggets to a 114-106 victory Tuesday night that trim Los Angeles’ lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference finals.
From the beginning of the game, the Nuggets looked like they wanted it more than the LA. At one point, they were leading by 20 points. Nikola Jokic had an all-round game, scoring 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists to compliment Murray.
The Nuggets played sloppy in the fourth quarter squandering a 20 point lead but held on, avoiding a 3-0 hole that would have been problematic for this young Denver’s team.
“We feel that we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest,” Murray said. “So we’re just going to move on to Game 4.”
Denver has set a record by erasing two 3-1 deficits in this postseason, but no NBA team has ever come back from 3-0 hole.
Jerami Grant had a playoff career-high 26 points was on fire in the fourth quarter.
Lebron James scored 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — his 26th playoff triple-double — for LA, who remain two wins from their first NBA Finals appearance in a decade. Anthony Davis, who made the winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2, scored 27 points.
Denver was up by 20 points with 10 1/2 minutes on the clock and the Lakers sprinted back with a 19-2 run, turning to a physical zone defense and forcing turnovers that led to easy transition baskets.
“We played some pretty good ball in the fourth quarter, but those first 36 minutes, that hurt us obviously,” James said.
The Lakers trimmed Denver’s lead down to four points, Murray made a 3-pointer with 2:16 remaining left. He then found Paul Millsap under the cup for a easy layup before hitting a long three to push the lead back to 111-99 with 53 ticks on the clock.
“Maybe they can beat us by 20, 30, they can beat us by a last shot, but we just cannot quit,” Jokic said. “Effort needs to be there.”
The Nuggets began with a 7-0 run, the last five from Michael Porter Jr., to up the lead to nine-points. After a dunk by James, Murray hit a trey and Monte Morris scored the next five to make it a 15-2 start to the period and give the Nuggets a 44-29 advantage.
Denver got it up to 18 points and could have been worse if not been for Davis, who scored nine straight LA points. Markieff Morris hit a deep three to cut it to 63-53 going into halftime.
The Lakers got the first five points of the third to cut the lead in half, but Denver regained control and led 93-75 after three quarters. The Nuggets kind of cruise after that.
The Lakers were almost out-rebounded by 20. They had a total of 25 rebounds whereas the Nuggets had 44.
The Nuggets will try to even the series on Thursday.