Lakers finally beat Nuggets, gain ‘lifeline’ with Game 4 win

LOS ANGELES — Bright purple and gold banners fluttered from the ceiling of Arena on Saturday, signifying not only the Los Angeles Lakers’ 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets to stay alive in their first-round series, but also that of Los Angeles. first win against Denver in nearly 500 days.

Ending an 11-game losing streak against the defending champions was certainly a better alternative than heading into the offseason and being swept out of the playoffs by the Nuggets for a second straight year.

However, trailing 3-1 in the series, the Lakers will still approach Game 5 on Monday on the verge of elimination.

“Well, the only opportunity for us is to play the next game,” LeBron James said after scoring 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. “And we gave ourselves another life. We gave ourselves another lifeline, and it’s a one-game series for us.”

No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series. Then again, no team in league history had ever come back from a 3-1 loss in the NBA Finals before James’ Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished the feat in 2016 – against a Golden State team Warriors with 73 wins, no less.

“Monday’s game is the most important game of the season for us, and we understand that and we know that, so it’s at that point where you lose, you’re done,” said James, who now has the most matches with 30 points in elimination scenarios with 19. “You win and you move on.”

While the start of the series tested team cohesion – with forward Anthony Davis and head coach Darvin Ham trading public shots between Games 2 and 3 and the ghost of D’Angelo Russell’s postseason reappearance Thursday when he went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting — Game 4 reflected the playoff slogan printed on the yellow rally towels handed out at the arena: It took everyone.

“This unity, this growth, everything we talked about (Friday) about being one, and you know, a great day to be alive to stay alive,” Ham said. “That was the message yesterday and the message today. Just win one game. And we have to refocus, recalibrate and have the same mindset all the way to Denver.”

Davis was masterful Saturday, tallying 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, tying a playoff career high with 23 rebounds and dishing out six assists. For the series, he is averaging 30.5 points on 62.2% shooting and 15.8 rebounds, often matched up against two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who also dominated Game 4 with 33 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. decisive.

“AD has nothing to prove to anyone,” James said. “He’s one of the best major players we have in the game, one of the best major players in the world. And he showed that again in the first four games.”

Russell dominated Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray, scoring 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting with a plus-15 rating, compared to Murray’s 22 points on 9-for-23 shooting with a minus-3 rating.

Ham stuck with Russell in the starting lineup, unlike last year when he benched him for Game 4 of the Conference Finals. He said he told Russell how much he believed in him for Saturday.

“I mean, I appreciate it, but I believe in myself, simple as that, more than anyone,” Russell said of Ham’s belief in himself. “I didn’t need it, but I appreciate it.”

Now the question is whether Los Angeles thinks it can replicate that success in Game 5 after doing everything so well on Saturday. Lakers topped Denver 46-40; they outscored the Nuggets 14-5 in second-chance points; they dominated the points in the paint battle 72-52; they built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never let it fall below seven in the second half; they led 13-5 on the bench; and, after being outscored by 31 third-quarter points in the first three games, they kept pace with Denver by barely outscoring 32-30 in the fourth game.

“We have a lot of confidence in our team,” Davis said. “We led this series a lot. And it was just our second half that we didn’t have, actually our third quarters, where we weren’t able to run the basketball- ball. So our confidence was never lost at any point in the game.”

For a Lakers team that went from winning the season tournament in December to 13th place in the West in January and had to scramble in the final months of the regular season just to qualify for the tournament play-in, there is at least one game left to play.

“I obviously would like us to win 4-0,” said Austin Reaves (21 points, six assists). “The odds are not in our favor. But any time we can keep floating above the water, we have the opportunity to do something special. And we’re up for the challenge.”

Gn headline
News Source :

Back to top button