LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA.—Jamal Murray had 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds and made two late three-pointers to halt a Lakers charge, helping the Denver Nuggets to a 114-106 victory Tuesday night that cut Los Angeles’ lead to 2-1 in the NBA Western Conference final.
The Nuggets lost almost all of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but held on to win, avoiding a 3-0 hole that would have been daunting even for this never-out-of-it team.
Denver has set a record by erasing two 3-1 deficits in this post-season, but no NBA team has ever come back from 3-0.
Jerami Grant added a playoff career-high 26 points and Nikola Jokic had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the series in Game 4 on Thursday.
LeBron James had 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who remained two wins from their first NBA Finals appearance in a decade. Anthony Davis, who made the winning three-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2, scored 27 points.
The Nuggets led by 20 with 10 1/2 minutes left and soon after were hanging on after the Lakers charged back with a 19-2 run, turning to a zone defence and forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets.
With Denver’s lead down to four, Murray made a three-pointer with 2:16 remaining. He then found Paul Millsap under the basket for a score before hitting a long three to push the lead back to 111-99 with 53 seconds to play.
Lakers: The Lakers had a six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 10-3 in these playoffs … Dwight Howard started the second half at centre, replacing JaVale McGee.
Nuggets: Denver’s last halftime lead had been a 59-57 edge over the Clippers in Game 3 of the West semifinals … Denver coach Michael Malone wished his parents a happy anniversary during his interview after the third quarter. His father, Brendan, was a longtime NBA assistant coach who also coached the Toronto Raptors in 1995-96, their inaugural season.
THE AIR UP THERE
The Lakers came into the game 4-0 in the playoffs as the designated road team. Coach Frank Vogel said nothing really changes in the Walt Disney World bubble except the benches the teams are sitting on, but he joked about the big difference that would have awaited his team in a normal situation.
“You know, I did make sure our guys did whatever they needed to do to adjust to the altitude of playing in Denver tonight because Game 3, you’ve always got to account for that altitude,” he said. “Maybe we don’t have to account for it tonight in Orlando.”