The Denver Nuggets have earned the representation of a resilient team and that was on display once again after trailing two games to none in the series.
Jamal Murray led the team with 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, lifting the Nuggets to a hard fought 114-106 win on Tuesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
“Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “For some reason we love this bubble.”
Jerami Grant recorded a playoff career-high 26 points for the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Monte Morris had 14 off the bench in 20 minutes of play.
“I knew I was going to be aggressive,” Grant said postgame. “I passed a couple shots up in Game 2 that I knew I should’ve shot. I knew I had to be aggressive, just make them guard me so I could open it up for Jokic and Jamal.”
LeBron James recorded his 26th playoff triple-double with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis added 27, fresh off burring the game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2.
Davis, however, only had two rebounds on the night and saw the Lakers get completely outhustled on the glass.
The Lakers were ultimately outrebounded 44-25, resulting in the Nuggets grabbing more offensive boards, which then helped contribute to Denver making 11 3-pointers compared to only six for Los Angeles.
“I have to do a better job on the glass personally, I can’t have only two rebounds the entire game,” said Davis. “It’s unacceptable, not much I can really say, just have to be better.
Los Angeles trailed 63-53 at halftime, but their deficit ballooned to as much as 20 points in the third after being outscored 30-22 in the period.
“You put yourself in an 18-point hole, it’s tough to climb out of that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
“We were not sharp as we could have been on both ends of the floor,” Vogel added. “We were playing at a high level, but we’re a little bit off in the first half.”
However, in the fourth, the Lakers responded with a 19-2 run and got within four after picking their defensive intensity up which led to fast break points.
“We played some pretty good ball in the fourth quarter, but those first 36 minutes, that hurt us obviously,” said James.
Minutes later, Murray made a huge three with 2:16 remaining, followed by connecting with Paul Millsap for a lay-up. Murray then hit another dagger 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 111-99 with 53 seconds to play which inevitably put the game away for a 114-106 victory.
“We feel that we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest,” said Murray. “So we’re just going to move on to Game 4.”
Game 4 between the Lakers and Nuggets will take place on Thursday at 6:00 PM.