Lake Buena Vista, Fla. –If the Lakers have any aspirations this year in playing in the NBA Finals they have to get out to a fast start and play sixty minutes of defense.
Well the Los Angeles Lakers are a win away from returning to the NBA Finals dance — and only comeback from 3-1 down by the Denver Nuggets can stop them.
LA are now 11-3 in the post-season and need just one more win to make it back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Anthony Davis lead the way with 34 points, Lebron James had 26 and the Lakers beat the Nuggets 114-108 on Thursday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
“We played great down the stretch, we played great overall,” Davis said. “Still some things that we can fix if we want to put this thing away.”
Davis set the pace for Lakers with his scoring on the blocks and James helped them with his relentless defense on the perimeter, forcing Jamal Murray to take bad shots and made it very difficult for him to operate around the cup.
“I knew it was winning time and Jamal had it going,” James said.
James added nine rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers had 12 offensive rebounds for a 25-6 advantage in second-chance points.
“This is the Western Conference finals, Game 4. If you can’t help us on the defensive end, maybe you shouldn’t be on the floor,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We have to be able to lock in, finish with a rebound. We had too many empty possessions tonight.”
The Nuggets will be facing elimination for the seventh time in the bubble. They were down 3-1 against the Utah Jazz in the first round and found a way to climb out of the hole against the Los Angeles Clippers in the West semifinals.
But they couldn’t come back in this game, Davis was not trying to hear none of that comeback stuff at all. He drove the Lakers bus all the way home.
“We just had so many breakdowns throughout the game,” Murray said. “We’ve just got to be better.”
The Lakers have 16 championships, one behind Boston for the most in NBA history, but they haven’t played for one since winning their most recent title in 2010.
LA started Dwight Howard at center and he had 12 points and 11 rebounds, putting the troublesome Nikola Jokic into foul trouble.
Murray had 32 points and eight assists, but Jokic finished with just 16 points and seven rebounds. They face a 3-1 deficit for the third time in the 2020 playoffs.
The Nuggets shot 59% in the first half but the Lakers had an 18-2 advantage in second-chance points.
Murray kept the Lakers at bay had a 7-for-8 start. He followed his acrobatic layup around James with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the half with a pair of free throws that cut the lead to four points, before LA took a 60-55 lead into the break.
Coming out of the break it was the Davis show, he made his first six shots before anyone else on the Lakers made a basket. Then Howard scored on consecutive follow shots before James followed with his first two field goals.
LA seemed to be taking control when Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped on the court, they pushed the lead to 11points with under 4 minutes remaining in the third, but Michael Porter Jr. hit two treys late in the period that trimmed the lead to 87-84 going to the fourth quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, it was just to much Davis on the perimeter and dab of James on the blocks that closed the game out for the Lakers.