Nuggets hold off Lakers to cut deficit to 2-1 in West finals
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone wasn’t worried about his team’s response in Game 3 after a crushing Game 2 loss on the final shot.
“To respond to a devastating loss at the buzzer takes a special team. I think that’s what we have, a special group of guys,” Malone said two hours before Tuesday’s game. “That was our message (Monday) as we watched the film. Look at all the positive things we did to put ourselves in position to win the game. So, we have to replicate that for as close to 48 minutes as possible.”
The never-quit Nuggets climbed back into their Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 114-104 victory Tuesday.
Jamal Murry hit two 3-pointers in an 84-second stretch late in the fourth quarter, the second one giving Denver a 111-99 lead with 53.7 seconds to play.
Murray was outstanding with 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Nikola Jokic had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Jerami Grant dropped in 26 points.
The Lakers lead the series 2-1, and Game 4 is Thursday (9 p.m. ET, TNT).
Malone liked how his team played in the second half of Game 2 — “We should have won that game, in our opinion,” he said — and the Nuggets picked up where they left off.
Denver led after one quarter and started the second quarter on a 15-2 run — with Jokic on the bench — and built a 15-point lead. It was a part of 23-5 run that extended the Nuggets’ lead to 50-32.
The Nuggets had an answer for everything the Lakers did. When Los Angeles bit into their lead, making it 63-58 early in the third quarter, the Nuggets outscored the Lakers 36-19 and owned a 97-77 lead, their largest of the series, with 10:36 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers didn’t go away though. They pulled to within 101-98 game, but the Nuggets once again responded, finishing the game on a 13-8 run.
Despite a sloppy 21-point fourth quarter, Denver still shot 54.8% from the field, including 37.9% on 3-pointers, and outrebounded the Lakers 44-25.
LeBron James recorded his 26th career playoff triple-double with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 27 points — but just two rebounds, both in the final quarter.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.