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Lakers can't stop Jamal Murray in crunch time of Game 3 loss to Nuggets

By Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

Denver's fearless 23-year-old, Jamal Murray, saw his team's lead slipping away so he hit a smooth three-pointer from just behind the arc. Then he found teammate Paul Millsap, the man who'd never beat LeBron James in a playoff game, inside on the next possession. Then he punctuated a 10-1 Denver run with a deep three-pointer.

Murray sauntered backward in a semi-dance, knowing he'd helped secure at least one win for the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers dropped Game 3 of the series, 114-106, which they lead 2-1, despite 30 points and a triple-double from James and 27 points from Anthony Davis. Murray finished the game with 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel was clear before the game that he knew the Lakers escaped with a win in a contest they very well could have lost Sunday night.

"Our guys are well aware that we dodged a bullet," Vogel said before Game 3 at AthenaHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida.

Despite the emotional lift the Lakers got from Davis' game-winner, there were plenty of flaws in Game 2. They turned over the ball, they gave up a big lead. Denver had reason to believe they could compete with the Lakers.

 

On Tuesday, Denver stayed competitive in the first quarter behind Nikola Jokic, who scored 11 points on five-of-seven first-quarter shooting and grabbed four rebounds. They led by two heading into the second quarter, 29-27.

Without Jokic, to start the second quarter, the Lakers fell victim to a 17-2 Nuggets run. At one point in the period, Denver led by 18 points. Although the Lakers trimmed the lead to just 10 points by halftime, they trailed in the rebounding margin, 23-11. In all of the second quarter, the Lakers only grabbed four rebounds.

They chose to see it as an opportunity to work a muscle they hadn't needed to very much in the playoffs - come back from a big deficit to win a game.

To that end, the Lakers continued their run in the third quarter, cutting the lead to five with two quick shots by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

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