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Recap: Denver Nuggets outlast Los Angeles Lakers in game 3

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NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets started the game where they left on in Game 1 by letting Anthony Davis get to the free throw line where he went 1-of-2. Nikola Jokic immediately answered with an easy floater in the lane. Following a stepback 3-point shot by Danny Green, Jokic had the ball stolen away which led to an easy basket for LeBron James. Denver was in a cold shooting spell, and the Lakers took advantage as LeBron made a jumper from the free-throw line.

Following a pair of turnovers, Jamal Murray stopped the run with a big 3-point shot. The Lakers knocked down shot after shot to keep Denver at bay. Down 12-9, Jerami Grant knocked down a 3-pointer off of a tip-ball that knotted the game up. After trading misses, the Lakers regained their lead on a dunk by Davis. Following a timeout, Grant nailed an easy layup to tie the game up at 14.

The two sides traded empty possessions before Javale McGee got a layup to go through contact under the basket. At the line, he went 0-of-1, but Denver was unable to convert. Kyle Kuzma converted an easy jumper en route to a four-point lead before Jokic was able to knock down a shot at the rim. After a miss by the Lakers, Jokic drew the second foul on McGee to send him to the bench, and he was able to knock down a layup off the inbounds pass.

Tied at 18, Kentavious Cauldwell-Pope made a contested layup that was answered by a dunking Michael Porter Jr. on the other end. With 2:27 remaining, Denver got their first lead of the game on a layup by Gary Harris which forced the Lakers to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Denver forced a miss by the Lakers, and Paul Millsap was able to go to the line after a foul. He knocked down both free throws to give the team a four-point lead with 2:00 remaining.

Following a miss by Denver, Davis drew another foul, and he was able to tie the game up at the line. On the other end, Porter got an easy layup underneath following a sharp pass from Jokic. Following a Lakers’ miss, Jokic drew a foul on Davis, and he was able to go 1-of-2 at the line. Kuzma nailed a contested 3-point shot to tie the game, but Jokic was able to knock down a contested floater over LeBron that gave them a 29-27 lead heading into the quarter break.

Denver started the second half with on a good note when Murray drew a foul on Markieff Morris. He was perfect from the line, and Denver was working to maintain that lead. They forced a miss by Rajon Rondo, but he was able to draw a turnover on Murray. After a Lakers’ turnover, Porter drilled a 3-point shot in the eye of James. Another Lakers’ turnover lead to a putback make by Porter and forced a Los Angeles timeout.

Following the timeout, the two sides traded turnovers before LeBron threw down an easy dunk to bring them within seven. However, Murray immediately nailed his second 3-point shot to take a 10-point lead. Monte Morris knocked down a long jumper following a miss by Markieff, and Denver was rolling. With just under nine minutes remaining, Morris capped off a 17-2 run that gave them a 15-point lead and forced another Lakers’ timeout.

Danny Green was able to draw a foul and make his way to the line following the timeout, and he knocked down 1-of-2. Denver committed a turnover on the next possession following some bad choices by Murray. After trading misses, James found Dwight Howard for an easy lob that forced an immediate timeout from Michael Malone.

Howard committed a foul and followed it up with a technical foul right out of the break. Murray missed the technical free throw, and he followed it up with a shot-clock violation. Thankfully, Porter bailed him out with a steal on James. Grant took it all the way to the basket where he drew a foul, and he was able to knock down both of his free-throw attempts.

The two sides traded misses prior to a Monte layup that gave them a 16-point lead with 6:00 remaining. Denver forced a miss, and they were keeping the throttle down as Grant raced towards the basket to draw another foul. He made both of his attempts, and the Lakers were struggling to keep pace prior to a make by Davis that was compounded with a foul. He completed the 3-point play at the line to bring them within 15.

Morris made a pair of free throws to get up to a 17-point lead, but Davis was maintaining his aggressiveness as he got to the rim and drew another foul on Denver. The problem for the Lakers was Denver making 3-point shots when they were only getting 2-pointers, and that lead wasn’t shrinking. Down by 16, Davis made a jumper at the top of the key, and Malone called a timeout to try and cool him off.

Jokic was able to draw the second foul on Howard under the basket, and his two free throws gave them their 16-point lead back. Rondo nailed an easy layup before the two sides traded blocks by Jokic and Howard. Following a turnover by Los Angeles, Murray nailed a fancy layup, but they immediately gave up a make by Howard underneath the basket that brought them within 14 with 2:00 remaining.

On the other end, Murray made another big jumper from 2-point range before KCP knocked down a 3-point shot that brought the Lakers back within 13. With 1:09 remaining, James got all the way to the basket for an uber-easy layup. On the other end, Jokic made a shot that everyone else in the NBA would have missed, but he knocked it down with ease. A 3-point make by Markieff cut the Lakers’ deficit to 10 with 30 seconds remaining. Denver missed a pair of attempts at the end of the clock, and they went in leading 63-53.

Coming out of the half, Murray drew a foul, but he missed both of his shots from the line. The two sides traded misses before KCP knocked down a big 3-point shot. After another miss by Denver, the Lakers got a layup to fall that brought them within five for the first time in a while.

Following a Denver timeout, Murray found Grant for an easy dunk to stop the Laker run. On the other end, Murray was called for a flagrant foul when his elbow collided with the chin of LeBron, but he only went 1-of-2 at the line. Down by 6, Howard picked up his fourth foul underneath the basket, but Denver failed to capitalize. After a miss by James, Grant went to the basket and drew a foul on the Lakers that put them in the bonus less than four minutes into the game.

Grant went 1-of-2 at the line which put them up by seven. After a miss by Los Angeles, Grant nailed a big 3-point shot to put them back up by 10. He immediately followed that up with a steal that he took all the way on the other end which forced a timeout by the Lakers up by 12. After the timeout, LeBron made a tough fadeaway over the outstretched hand of Grant, but Jokic immediately knocked down a 3-point shot on the other end.

LeBron went right back to that wing jumper for a make, and he followed it up with a block of Millsap. He took the block right to the cup that brought the Lakers within nine. Grant drove to the basket and drew a foul while watching the ball almost fall for him. He hit both of his free throws, and that helped stem the run LeBron had just gone on. Following a miss by each team, Howard committed a 3-second violation to give the ball back to Denver.

Harris made them pay with his first 3-point make of the night, and the Lakers answered with an easy putback layup. A Laker player had fallen, and Jokic was able to get an easy floater to fall before Rondo matched him. Following the Rondo layup, Monte drilled a 3-point shot that gave them a 14-point lead with 4:00 remaining. Murray hit a pair of free throws, and Denver was rebuilding their lead.

After a miss by KCP, Millsap missed a layup, but Jokic hit the follow that put them up by 18. Davis caught a pocket pass under the basket, and he was able to knock down the easy shot. Murray quickly went to work where he made a crafty mid-range jumper. The two sides spent the next minute trading turnovers and offensive fouls, and no one was putting points on the board until Murray made a floater while he appeared to float in the air. His shot put Denver up by 20 which was LA’s biggest deficit of the entire playoffs before a Davis jumper cut it to 18.

The Lakers took a miss by Grant to the other end where Rondo knocked down the layup, but Grant hit his career-high with a layup of his own. Heading into the fourth quarter, Denver was ahead by 18, and they were on a path to their first win of the series against the lagging Lakers.

To start the fourth quarter, the Lakers got a make by Rondo prior to an offensive foul by Porter. Craig hit a bailout layup following a pass from Grant. After a miss by Rondo, Murray took the ball all the way to the rim, and he threw it down with some authority. Down by 20 with 10:30 to go, the Lakers had a lot of work to do. Davis knocked down three free throws before LeBron hit a 3-point shot that brought them within 14.

On the other end, Murray put Alex Caruso in a blender before he knocked down another mid-range jumper. LeBron was staying aggressive as he drew another foul, and Kuzma was able to score off of the inbounds pass. After trading misses, Davis got an easy dunk in transition that brought them within 12. Coming out of the Denver timeout, Murray turned the ball over which led to an easy dunk for LeBron to bring the Lakers within 10.

The two sides traded turnovers prior to a layup by Davis that forced another Denver timeout. Out of the timeout, Murray drew a foul on Rondo, and they were working to stem the run before Rondo stole the ball from Murray that led to an easy LeBron dunk. Another Denver turnover led to a make by James, and they were now up by just four. Rondo picked up his third steal, and it led to free throws for Kuzma. He went 1-of-2, and Grant was able to make a layup to give them a five-point lead to stop the bleeding.

James grabbed a mismatch on Jokic, and he took the ball right to the rack. Jokic drew a foul on Rondo, but Denver could do nothing with it. After a steal by Jokic, Murray drew a foul under the basket, but Denver failed to score. The two sides traded misses with Denver up by three before Grant went to the basket and drew a foul. He knocked down both foul shots to take a five-point lead with just under four minutes to go.

On the other end, Rondo drew another foul on Jokic, and he went 1-of-2 at the line. With Denver up four, the two sides were trading misses prior to a make by 3-point bucket in the face of Caruso that gave them a seven-point lead. Millsap drew a foul on Rondo on the defensive end, and he was rewarded with an easy dunk at the other end. Up by nine, Murray shot a dagger 3-pointer from the parking lot that gave them a 12-point lead with less than a minute to go.

Following a Lakers’ timeout, Kuzma got a shot to fall through a foul, and he converted the 3-point play at the line. Caruso fouled Harris on the inbounds as Denver was trying to salt the game away from the line. Harris nailed them both. LeBron got an easy layup, and the inevitable was approaching with Denver en route to a Game 3 win. Denver is firmly in this series, and they proved that they are not going to bow out quietly.

Stat Leaders

Points: Jamal Murray - 28

Assists: Murray - 12

Rebounds: Nikola Jokic - 10

Player of the Game: Jerami Grant - 27 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 7-of-11 shooting, 2-of-5 3-point