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Apr 28, 2024 9:23 pm

Lakers know they’re still fighting history vs. Nuggets in Game 5

Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers ended nearly two seasons of frustration against Denver on Saturday night and stayed alive in the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Now the goal is to make NBA history.

Los Angeles’ 119-108 win over the Nuggets in Game 4 on Saturday night snapped an 11-game skid against the defending champions, counting regular season and playoffs, but the Lakers have plenty of work ahead. It continues with Game 5 on Monday night in Denver.

“We’ve given ourselves another lifeline, and it’s a one-game series for us,” said LeBron James, who scored 14 of his team-high 30 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday night. “Monday’s game is the most important game of the season for us, and we understand that.”

James also understands that teams that fall behind 3-0 in an NBA series have literally never won the series, although four teams have forced a Game 7. The last to do it were the Boston Celtics in last year’s Eastern Conference finals, but they lost Game 7 at home to Miami.

Los Angeles has confidence it can be the first team to rally from 3-0. The Lakers have led for most of the series and had double-digit advantages in all four games, only to have the Nuggets rally to win the first three. Saturday night, Los Angeles held firm when Denver made a run.

“It takes a lot of energy to come back from these double-digit leads down 20, down 15, whatever it is,” Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. said. “(On Saturday) they did a good job of sustaining it. Whenever we got within 10 or eight, it seemed like they made a 3-pointer or made a big shot. So, credit to them.”

The Lakers controlled the paint in Game 4, with Anthony Davis leading the way with 25 points and 23 rebounds. Los Angeles scored 72 of its 119 points in the lane.

“The paint defense was a joke,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.

The Nuggets knew Davis and James would get their offense, but it was D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves who provided the difference with 21 points apiece. Russell has had a rollercoaster series, hitting a playoff career-high seven 3-pointers in Game 2 before going scoreless in Game 3.

Russell made four 3-pointers on Saturday night, including one late in the fourth quarter that kept Denver from mounting another late rally.

The Nuggets have gotten production throughout their starting lineup, but Jamal Murray has struggled with his shot. He is hitting just 38.0 percent from the field and 20.8 from behind the 3-point line. He was 9-for-23 Saturday night and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

Denver still has home-court advantage but would like to close out the series on Monday night. The Nuggets know the longer the series goes, the more the pressure will mount, and that’s what Los Angeles hopes to do.

“The odds aren’t stacked in our favor. But anytime we can keep ourselves floating above water, we have an opportunity to do something special,” Reaves said. “And we’re ready for the challenge.”

–Field Level Media

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