Denver Nuggets go 3-0 up over mis-firing Lakers

Jamal Murray scored 30 of his 37 points in the first half and the Denver Nuggets asserted control of the Western Conference finals with a 119-108 road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Nikola Jokic scored 15 fourth-quarter points to help Denver take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The two-time MVP finished with 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Reuters reports the Nuggets are one victory away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. They can clinch Monday night when Game 4 is held in Los Angeles.

No team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

Anthony Davis recorded 28 points and 18 rebounds for seventh-seeded Los Angeles. LeBron James added 23 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds, and Austin Reaves had 23 points and seven rebounds.

James was 3 of 9 from 3-point range on Saturday and is 3-for-19 in the series.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 17 points, Bruce Brown added 15 and Michael Porter Jr. registered 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the top-seeded Nuggets.

Murray, who scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2, carried the momentum into Game 3. He had 17 points in the first quarter and added 13 more in the second.

The Nuggets made 50 percent of their field-goal attempts, including 17 of 41 from 3-point range. Murray made five treys while Caldwell-Pope and Porter each made four.

Los Angeles connected on 45.2 percent of its attempts and was 10 of 32 from behind the arc. Rui Hachimura added 13 points.

Hachimura made two free throws to give Los Angeles a 94-93 edge with 7:48 left before Denver answered with 13 consecutive points. Jeff Green, Brown and Murray all made 3-pointers, Brown added a tip-in and Jokic converted a layup as Denver took a 12-point lead with 4:51 remaining.

Los Angeles was unable to make a sustained charge. When Porter drained a 3-pointer to make it 117-103 with 1:06 left, the silence in the arena made clear the Lakers couldn't avoid their first home loss of the playoffs.

The Nuggets led 58-55 at halftime. Caldwell-Pope scored 12 points in the third quarter, including a trey that gave the Nuggets an 81-74 lead with two minutes left.

A short time later, James made his first two 3-pointers of the series after missing his first 13. The two treys came in a span of less than 18 seconds and pulled Los Angeles within 83-82 with 25.3 seconds left in the period.

Denver led 84-82 entering the final stanza but the Lakers moved ahead on a 3-pointer by Hachimura 60 seconds into the quarter.


Nikola Jokic (L) of the Denver Nuggets handles the ball against LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers during game three of the Western Conference Finals in California. Photo: AFP