The Denver Nuggets started Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers rather slow while Los Angeles got their scoring going in a hurry. Specifically, it was clear early on that LeBron James might be in for a special night when an attempted lob to Rui Hachimura found its way into the hoop. After making just 3-of-19 3-pointers in the first three games, he had already hit two in the first quarter. For the Nuggets, just about everyone was struggling in the first quarter, and they were never able to get the lead back from the Lakers while LeBron seemingly couldn’t miss. The Lakers were leading 34-28 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, it was more of the same, but we also saw the Laker-friendly whistle make its triumphant return late in the quarter. As we saw late in Game 1, any physicality from the Lakers was met with silence while the Nuggets were starting to get frustrated and began to commit more and more fouls as a result. They got a couple of triples to fall, but LeBron was on a torrid pace. At the half, he had 31 points after playing all but four seconds in the first half while shooting 11-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-4 from 3-point range. At the end of the half, James and Dennis Schroder were 7-of-7 from 3-point range while no one else had made a triple, and the team was leading 73-58 at the break behind a career-high points in a half by James.

The Nuggets started the second half looking as though they spent the entire halftime break getting screamed at by Michael Malone about their effort on the defensive end. Through the first eight minutes of the quarter, they had outscored the Lakers 25-10 to take their first lead of the game before Anthony Davis tied the game at 83. It took until the 2:45 mark for LeBron to score his first points of the half after putting up 31 in the first half. Aaron Gordon had come alive from 3-point range in this one. He made his third of the game after missing each of his first 11 in the series. The team continued their strong quarter, and they were carrying a 94-89 lead heading into the final period after trailing by as many as 15 in the game. They were 12 minutes away from their first NBA Finals’ birth along with their first playoff sweep in franchise history.

To start the fourth quarter, the Nuggets were struggling from the floor, and the Lakers quickly tied it up at 94. Out of the timeout, the Nuggets went on a brief run, but it was answered by the Lakers. A few minutes later, the two sides were trading baskets back and forth before Jokic was called for back-to-back charges, including one that was clearly out of frustration. The Lakers tied the game at 102, and Jokic had five fouls with 5:01 remaining in the game. Over the next five minutes, neither team could get much separation. Jokic was being cautious on the defensive end, and that was allowing Anthony Davis to score with 10 of his 21 points coming in the fourth. For Denver, it was a big Aaron Gordon night, as he was up to 22 points on the night late in the quarter. With the Nuggets leading 113-111, the Lakers had four seconds left with an attempt to tie or take the lead. LeBron drove to the basket, and he was locked up by Gordon and Murray when he attempted to shoot. Denver would hang on to win, and they were heading to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history after winning 113-11 to complete the sweep of the Lakers.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic – 30

Assists: Nikola Jokic – 13

Rebounds: Jokic – 14

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 30 points, 13 assists, 14 rebounds, 11-of-24 field goal, 3-of-6 3-point, 5-of-6 free throw