The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 113-111 on Monday night, completing their four-game sweep of the Western Conference finals to earn a spot in the NBA Finals for the first time in the franchise’s history. Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists.
The top-seeded Nuggets were led in scoring by Jamal Murray with 25 points, and the team’s dogged determination in the second half of Game 4 helped them overcome LeBron James’ 31-point first half and a 15-point lead at halftime to win their first conference title in their 47 years as an NBA franchise.
Even though James finished the game with 40 points, ten rebounds, and nine assists after having the highest-scoring postseason half of his career, the deep and dynamic Nuggets were able to pull away from the competition and win for the sixth game in a row overall.
James could not tie the game with two attempts in the waning seconds, and it appeared Aaron Gordon blocked his shot at the buzzer.
Before the end of the third quarter, Jokic had already earned his eighth triple-double of the playoffs, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record from 1967 for the most triple-doubles in a single NBA postseason. The Serbian big man also led the Nuggets’ persistent defensive effort despite picking up his fifth foul in the middle of the fourth quarter. When Denver needed a big basket, Jokic supplied that as well. Despite picking up his fifth foul, Jokic led the Nuggets’ tenacious defensive effort.
The Lakers overcame a seven-point deficit and tied the game with five minutes remaining, but Jokic nailed a 3-pointer from the corner from 25 feet away to win the game. Jokic broke the tie with a layup that he made after he outmuscled Anthony Davis, who had just tied the game with two free throws of his own with 1:11 remaining.
After then, James had only 26 seconds remaining on the clock when he poorly missed an unusual fallaway jumper. James’ attempt to score at the buzzer was blocked by Murray and Gordon, who both finished with 22 points after Murray missed a turnaround that would have given the Lakers one more chance to win.
After having a phenomenal season under the direction of coach Michael Malone, the Nuggets will cap it off by competing for their first-ever NBA championship. It was the first time in eight playoff meetings that Denver eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers. It was also the first time that Denver swept a playoff series. As a result, Denver will have a few days off before the finals.
The first game of the NBA Finals will be played on June 1 in Denver between the top-seeded Nuggets and the eighth-seeded Heat unless the Boston Celtics pull off the most remarkable comeback in the history of basketball by erasing a 3-0 series deficit and winning the East finals.
James finished his 20th season in the NBA with a game against the Lakers when he scored 21 points in the first quarter and worked frantically to keep the Lakers in the game. However, the Los Angeles Lakers could not even force a game five since Davis, who appeared to be weary, scored 10 of his 21 points and added 14 rebounds in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the eleventh time in their franchise’s history, including nine best-of-seven series. Austin Reaves led the club in scoring with 17 points.
After beginning the season with a record of 2-10 under new coach Darvin Ham, the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers’ stunning recovery, they were stopped with this loss. After bolstering their roster at the trade deadline and surging into the postseason with two months of solid play, the Los Angeles Lakers then defeated the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and eliminated the defending champion Golden State Warriors to ignite the hopes of their fans all over the world for one of the most improbable championship runs in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
James and the Lakers responded to the threat of elimination for the first time in their great playoff run by playing their most significant half of the series. They took a 73-58 advantage into halftime on James’ broad shoulders thanks to the Lakers’ dominant performance. In his record-setting 282nd postseason game, he tied the playoff career high for a quarter with 21 points that he had scored during the first quarter. After that, he matched the most points he had ever cut in any first half of his career.
But the Nuggets fought back with a ferocious performance in the third quarter, which allowed them to take the lead for the first time in the game less than eight minutes after halftime. Before the Lakers’ comeback, Denver extended its advantage to seven points; however, Davis’ putback dunk with 5:02 remaining in the game tied the score.
In the first quarter for the Nuggets, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope completed a “four-point play” to score two points. At the end of the game, he had 13 points. The Nuggets have never been down in any of their series, and they are currently undefeated at home in the playoffs, improving their record to 10-0 since March. Overall in the postseason, Denver has a record of 12-3.
During the first half for the Lakers, James scored an unintentional three-pointer as his lob pass to Rui Hachimura ended up going into the basket. Dennis Schroder and Hachimura were inserted into the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers in place of the failing D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt. This was Ham’s attempt to salvage the Lakers’ season. The adjustments were successful almost immediately, as the two new starters combined for 19 points in the first half of the game. Since at least 1997, James’ 21 points in the first quarter of a playoff game were the most scored by a player on the Lakers. During the most significant stretch of playing time of his Lakers career, which began on the regular season’s penultimate weekend, veteran Tristan Thompson scored four points in ten minutes of action. Courtside, Kyrie Irving took in all of the action in the game. There has been speculation that the great free agency guard may reunite with LeBron James on the Lakers for the upcoming season. Vin Diesel, Adam Sandler, and Aaron Donald were among the other spectators seated courtside.