The Denver Nuggets have taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, putting LeBron James and co. on the brink of elimination and potential sweep. With a dominant performance led by point guard Jamal Murray’s 37 points, the Nuggets secured a 119-108 victory in Game 3.
Should the Nuggets emerge victorious in Game 4 on Monday in Los Angeles, they will be crowned their first Western Conference title and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time.
The Nuggets fought a tough battle against the Lakers in Game 3 as they continued to show their dominance throughout the series. Denver managed to maintain their composure despite a relatively quiet performance from MVP runner-up Nikola Jokic. The Joker contributed 24 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds while contending with foul trouble during the game.
The Nuggets’ victory stemmed from their ability to avoid the typical mistakes forced by the Lakers, committing only five turnovers. Most of their rotation players also delivered solid performances, with notable contributions from Bruce Brown and former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The impressive individual performances of the Nuggets’ stars, along with a disappointing game from Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell’s shocking 3 points on 1-of-8 shooting, further aided their cause. The first half showcased Murray’s exceptional talent as he continued his outstanding performance from Game 2, scoring 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting.
Although Murray’s brilliance helped the Nuggets build a 14-point lead in the first quarter, the Lakers managed to stay within striking distance. Jokic had a subdued half, contributing 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting, while Los Angeles benefited from a significant free-throw disparity and a strong start from Anthony Davis. The Lakers trailed by a slim margin of 58-55 at halftime.
Murray struggled to find his rhythm in the second half and remained scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter. Jokic rekindled his performance, as did James, who made consecutive 3-pointers, marking his first successful shots from beyond the arc in the series.
The second half saw the Nuggets in control as they steadily increased their lead and began to distance themselves from the Lakers in the fourth quarter with an impressive 13-0 run. During this pivotal moment, Jokic delivered an extra 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham described his team’s current situation as “difficult but not impossible.” Davis also refused to give up, saying the series is “not over” yet.
The Lakers have enjoyed an impressive winning streak since the NBA trade deadline on February 9, going 27-12 and surging into the playoffs. They won a play-in game and eliminated two higher-seeded opponents in six games.
During Game 3, AD showcased a strong performance with 28 points and 18 rebounds, while James contributed 23 points and 12 assists. Austin Reaves finished the game with 23 points. However, their momentum has been halted by Jokic, Murray, and the determined Nuggets, whose superior performance in crucial moments has granted them a 3-0 series lead.
Seeking to avoid elimination, the Lakers will face a crucial Game 4 on Monday. It is worth noting that no team in NBA history has ever managed to stage a comeback from a 3-0 series deficit.
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