The LA Lakers found themselves in a precarious position after two games of the Western Conference Finals. Despite playing dominantly through the first two rounds of the playoffs, they had seemingly met their match in the Denver Nuggets. Despite keeping both games close, the Nuggets had found a way to maintain their perfect playoff home record.
With the series heading to Crypto.com Arena, the Lakers needed to find a way to close out Game 3. After all, there were just three teams in NBA history to have tied a series after starting 0-3 down. Furthermore, it has been 20 years since that last happened, when the Blazers lost 4-3 to the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs after starting 0-3 down. The Lakers needed to find the win that had eluded them thus far.
Jamal Murray Once Again Leads The Nuggets To Victory
Unlike the first two games of the series, there was no back-and-forth first quarter. The Nuggets raced out to a big lead, and the Lakers found themselves trailing by 12 at the end of the first. However, the Lakers bounced back in the second, making the adjustments that allowed them to cut the Nuggets' lead to three at the half. The Lakers continued to keep it close through the third, taking another point off the Nuggets' lead as the teams entered the final quarter. This is where the Lakers had failed to close out in the first two games of the series. Briefly, the Lakers took the lead but it lasted just 22 seconds as the Nuggets began to pull away. The Nuggets moved to series point with a 119-108 victory.
Much like in Game 2, the Nuggets relied on Jamal Murray as the Lakers focused their defensive efforts on Nikola Jokić. Murray led all scorers with 37 points, also adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Jokić had 24 points with 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Anthony Davis led the Lakers in scoring with 28 points, while LeBron and Austin Reaves both put up 23. But now the Lakers are in a difficult position. As mentioned, no team has successfully won a playoff series after starting 3-0 down. LeBron James, the leader of the Lakers, has been here three times before. At 2-0 down, he is 3-5 in the playoffs. But at 3-0 down? Of course, it's an 0-3 record for the GOAT. The series continues in LA on Monday.