Florida, United States, Sep 22 (efe-epa).- Canadian point guard Jamal Murray regained his status as leading scorer for the Nuggets and the Denver team beat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-106 on Tuesday in the third game of the Western Conference finals.
The victory was the first for the Nuggets in the series, which is now 2-1 in favor of the Lakers and is played in a best-of-seven format.
The fourth of the series will be played Thursday, at AdventHealth Arena, in the Orlando bubble.
Murray finished the game with a 28-point double-double, including four triples from eight attempts, dished out 12 assists, captured eight rebounds and recovered two balls.
But it would be forward Jerami Grant who emerged as the surprise factor with 26 points, after scoring 7 of 11 shots from the field, including 2 of 5 triples, and 10 of 12 from the personnel line.
Grant’s scoring inspiration, who had his best individual records in the playoffs as a professional, was what caused him to completely break the defensive scheme of the Lakers, who were behind on the scoreboard throughout the game.
At the beginning of the fourth period, the Denver team had a partial advantage of 97-80 and although the Lakers tried the comeback, this time there was no “miracle” basket as happened in the second game and they began to feel the Nuggets’ pressure.
Serbian center Nikola Jokic also played his role as a key player in the Denver team’s offense and contributed another double-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
While reserve point guard Monte Morris finished with 14 points as the Nuggets’ sixth player and completed the list of the four of his team that had double-digit scores.
Murray, in addition to being the leading scorer, always responded with the decisive baskets, such as the two consecutive triples in the final stretch of the game, when the Lakers continued in their attempt at the comeback.
The Nuggets lost nearly the entirety of a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, but held on to win, avoiding a 3-0 hole that would have been overwhelming even for this team that is a comeback specialist.
Denver has set a record by overcoming two 1-3 deficits so far in the finals against the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, but no NBA team has come back from 0-3 in playoff series.
Star forward LeBron James shone again in the singles section with a triple-double of 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds that put him in front of the Lakers, who follow two victories from his first appearance in the NBA Finals in a decade.
The Nuggets held a 20 lead with less than 11 minutes to play and soon after held out after the Lakers’ 19-2 streak through zone defense and forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets.
With Denver’s lead reduced to four points, Murray hit a three-pointer with 2:16 left. Then he found forward Paul Millsap under the basket to score before hitting a long three-pointer that put the difference back on the scoreboard in favor of the Nuggets with a run of 111-99 and 53 seconds to go.
The Lakers snapped a six-game winning streak and fell to 10-3 so far in playoff competitions, which they return to after a 12-year absence. EFE-EPA