The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-103 in a come-from-behind victory on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. Jamal Murray scored 23 of his team-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, helping to power the Nuggets to the victory.
The Nuggets, who have never been this close to reaching the NBA Finals in their history, were led by Nikola Jokic, who recorded his 13th playoff triple-double by scoring 23 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and dishing out a dozen assists for his team.
At this point in the playoffs, LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers have a perfect record of 8-0. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.
After missing 12 of his 17 shots through the first three quarters, Jamal Murray regained his shooting touch in the fourth quarter, hitting 6 for 7 with four 3-pointers and helping to power a 15-1 run that gave Denver a 96-84 lead. Jamal Murray finished the game with a shooting percentage of 500.
As in Game 1, the Lakers did not surrender without a fight. A jumper by Austin Reaves brought them within three points, but Jamal Murray made both of his free throws with a minute and a half remaining, and then Bruce Brown stole the ball from LeBron James and dribbled it out for the last eight seconds of the game.
The Nuggets advanced to 41-8 at home, which is the greatest record in the NBA, and they are also undefeated in the postseason.
Both James and Reaves scored 22 points for the Los Angeles Lakers. Rui Hachimra scored 21 points off the bench, while Anthony Davis finished with 18 points after scoring 40 in the series’ first game.
It appeared for a good portion of the night that the Nuggets, the top seed for the very first time in their franchise’s history, were going to lose the home-court advantage to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, to get to the conference finals, the Lakers were victorious in both the opening games of their series away at Memphis and Golden State.
Many people had the assumption that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham would start Rui Hachimura against Nikola Jokic in Game 2 because of the superb defense that Hachimura had played on Jokic in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ loss in Game 1. Jokic is the standout center for the Nuggets. But, on the other hand, he got up from the bench once more.
And what a spark he gave, making all seven of his first-half shots and finishing the half with a game-high 17 points to provide the team with the lead. Despite slow starts from James and Davis, who were each held to two points in the first quarter, the Lakers were able to take the lead thanks to a 9-0 run that was started by his 3-pointer and pull-up jumper to open the second quarter. This put the Lakers in the driver’s seat.
James’ breakaway dunk made it 68-57 halfway through the third quarter, but the Nuggets got back into it with a 10-0 run and seized their first lead since the first quarter when Murray’s 3-pointer made it 84-83. Jamal Murray’s shot put the Nuggets up for the first time since the first quarter.
At the 7-minute mark, his step-back 3-pointer brought the score to 87-83. After making another 3, the score was now 99-87, and he finished the game by making seven of eight free throws in the last minute.
The Los Angeles Lakers won the game by making 23 of their 26 free throws. The combined shooting performance of Davis and James was 13 of 36 from the field.
The statement by NBA Online Betting PH sideline reporter Lisa Salters after Game 1 that she had never seen Jokic play before irked the Nuggets, as the Nuggets were upset by the statement. After picking up his second foul 1:39 into the game, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had scored 21 points in the previous game, was forced to sit out for the remainder of the first quarter. The Nuggets had an 18-point advantage in scoring from beyond the arc compared to the Lakers.