In heartbreaking fashion, the Los Angeles Lakers made the game-winning play tonight with Anthony Davis hitting a buzzer-beating three over the outstretched arm of Nikola Jokic to win 105-103 and extend the series lead to 2-0.
The Nuggets fought valiantly to make the comeback, with Nikola Jokic leading the way and making some clutch shots of his own down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough after a miscommunication between Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant left Davis open for the game-winner. Davis finished with 31 points and nine rebounds. LeBron James finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. Jokic finished with 30 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals. Jamal Murray had 25 points himself.
After a slow start and a bit of sloppy play from both teams, the Denver Nuggets were able to get their offensive going thanks to five points each from Jamal Murray and Jerami Grant. Up 12-7 halfway through the first quarter, the Nuggets were playing with better effort and awareness than they had in Game 1 but they were having trouble guarding LeBron James no matter who they put on him.
LeBron breaking out the spin move pic.twitter.com/VTZ8vtjoRX— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 20, 2020
Despite Nuggets head coach Michael Malone saying that James’ playmaking was more dangerous then his scoring ability, LeBron got hot early and scored the Lakers’ first 12 points. A block on Paul Millsap from Danny Green followed by a coast-to-coast layup from the veteran guard after a Nuggets turnover allowed LA to take a one possession lead over a feisty Denver team that appeared a bit out of sorts.
The Nuggets would have needed far more than they got from Nikola Jokic in the first quarter.
A 18-3 run from the Lakers after going down 7-12 midway through the first period got LA their first double-digit lead of the game, as Davis — who started out the game 0-5 as the Nuggets corralled him inside the paint — hit a couple of jumpers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit his first three of the game.
Jokic, usually an efficient offensive force, started the game 3-9 from the floor as the Lakers ended the first quarter with a 29-21 lead over Denver. A quarter in which the best highlight for the Nuggets may have been a block on James from Torrey Craig, although Murray going coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer was pretty as well.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the sideline reporter that he liked the defense in the first half but felt that turnovers and the Lakers’ offensive rebounds were what made the difference in the first quarter.
Michael Porter Jr., who scored 3 points in the first quarter, started off strong in the second quarter with five quick points in the first two minutes of the quarter. Strong defense and a three from the steady Monte Morris pulled Denver, whom LA has dubbed “the Comeback Kids,” to within four (31-35).
MPJ hits the tough shot with Bron in his face pic.twitter.com/j6IWcXoLUw— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2020
Turnovers by the Nuggets, poor defensive execution and missed shots by Jokic allowed the Lakers to expand their lead to 14 points (38-42) with under four minutes to go in the first half.
Excessive antics from Dwight Howard and the Lakers bench led to a couple of technical fouls for the Nuggets. That, along with a great defensive effort from Millsap (who held AD to 0-5 shooting in the half) and Denver capitalizing on being in the bonus, allowed the Nuggets to cut the lead to 10 before the second half began.
Despite being able to get good looks, the Nuggets weren’t able to capitalize on open attempts and fell to 16 with eight minutes left in the third quarter. However, three consecutive shots right around the rim allowed them to cut it right back down to 10 points before the Lakers called a timeout.
Deciding to take the ball inside rather than take 3-point attempts, Denver was able to get the lead back into single-digits late in the fourth with a 14-6 run. The third quarter would be the first quarter that the Nuggets outscored the Lakers (28-22), thanks to their best defensive period and their ability to force turnovers.
The Comeback Kids continued to show their resilience in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 82 early in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles appeared to lose momentum as LeBron and company missed multiple shots. However, the Lakers showed mental toughness to get the lead back briefly.
P.J. Dozier played strong defense when he got the call in the fourth quarter and Torrey Craig continued to play great defense on James. Yet, despite his ability to draw three fouls late in the fourth, he went just 1-5 from the free-throw line, preventing the Nuggets from completely closing the gap despite their defensive play.
9 consecutive points from Jokic, who continued to play the part of the closer for Denver, allowed the Nuggets to briefly take the lead at 101-100.
The Lakers, who saw AD and James switch spots in the first and second half, got a quick shot from Davis on the other end to put them back up 102-101 before Jokic scored once again to give the Nuggets the lead.
Unfortunately, we all know what happened immediately after.