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Saturday, July 13, 2024

LeBron stars as Lakers stay alive with win over Nuggets

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Los Angeles, United States—The Los Angeles Lakers, fueled by 30 points from superstar LeBron James, stayed alive in the NBA playoffs on Saturday with a 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Down 3-0 to the defending champions and facing elimination, the Lakers stood firm on their home floor, weathering a triple-double from Nuggets star Nikola Jokic to send the series back to Denver for game five on Monday.

After the Lakers let double-digit leads evaporate in losing each of the first three games, James scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to ensure it didn’t happen again.

“I love the fourth quarter,” James said. “I understand it is close-out time and we haven’t been able to do that versus this team through three games.

“So, tonight, I had an opportunity to do that and I wanted to deliver,” added the 39-year-old, who connected on six of eight shots in the final period, drew a charge and came up with a steal that he parlayed into a dunk at the other end.

But the four-time NBA champion wasn’t ready to celebrate the Lakers’ first win over Denver in 12 contests, since December of 2022, knowing that no NBA team has rallied from 3-0 down to win a playoff series.

“We’re still down 3-1,” he said. “So, each and every game will be its own challenge. We took care of business tonight to extend the series, but we’ve got to be even better.”

Anthony Davis added 25 points and a whopping 23 rebounds for Los Angeles. Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell scored 21 points apiece.

Russell repaid the faith of coach Darvin Ham, who kept him in the starting lineup after he went scoreless in game three.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 33 points with 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

Michael Porter, Jr. had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Murray added 16 for the Nuggets in defeat.

Double-digit duo

Saturday’s other three games were lopsided affairs, as Eastern Conference top seeds Boston rebounded from a shock home loss to the eighth-seeded Heat with a 104-84 victory in Miami that put the Celtics up 2-1.

The Thunder, winners of their first two games against the Pelicans in Oklahoma City, pressed their advantage in New Orleans with a 106-85 thrashing that gave them a 3-0 stranglehold on their Western Conference series.

And the Orlando Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-89 to level their Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.


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