Denver is going to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, while the Lakers are going home after being dealt broom treatment in their own building last night at Crypto.com Arena.
The Nuggets rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to capture a 113-111 win over the Lakers in Monday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Mike Malone’s team won outright as a 3.5-point road underdog, cashing +140 money-line tickets.
Gamblers who had Denver to win the WC finals in four games cashed +1000 (or 10/1) tickets at BetMGM. Even though the in-game total spent most of its time in the upper 230s to low 240s from late in the second quarter through the early-to-mid portions of the fourth quarter, the 224 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 225.5-point tally.
LeBron James scored 31 first-half points to lead Los Angeles to a 73-58 lead at halftime. Denver outscored the Lakers 36-16 in the third quarter, however, to go ahead 94-89 going into the final stanza. The Nuggets took their first lead of the game, 82-81, on a Kentravious Caldwell-Pope layup off a pass from Nikola Jokic with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
Jokic staked Denver to a six-point lead with less than three minutes left thanks to an unfathomably difficult stepback trey that was well defended by Anthony Davis:
The Lakers didn’t quit, though. They went on a 7-1 run thanks to a 3-ball from Austin Reaves and four straight free throws from Davis.
With the game tied in the final minute, Jokic dribbled to his left past Davis and finished strong at the rim with his off hand to put Denver ahead by two with 51.6 ticks remaining.
After both teams traded stops to the delight of ‘under’ supporters, the Lakers had one last chance with four seconds left. James caught the ball at the top of the key and immediately attacked the paint dribbling to his left.
Aaron Gordon was guarding him and got help off the ball from Jamal Murray, who briefly tied James up as he attempted to get into the air. Although James eventually powered through Murray, Gordon was there for the block to end the game and the series.
Gordon played his best game of the series – by far. He was terrific at both ends of the court, especially in the second half. Gordon finished with 22 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and five assists without a turnover.
The 38-year-old James played all 48 minutes and was understandably tired down the stretch. Nevertheless, it was still a spectacular performance, as he produced 40 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and nine assists compared to merely one turnover. James made 15-of-25 field-goal attempts, 4-of-7 treys and 6-of-7 free throws.
Jokic recorded his fifth triple-double in the Nuggets’ last six games. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record that’s stood since 1967 with his eighth triple-double in a single postseason run. Jokic had 30 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, three blocked shots and one steal.
Murray scored 25 points by splashing the nets on 10-of-18 FGAs. He also had five assists, three rebounds, two steals and one block, while Michael Porter Jr. added 15 points, 10 boards and one block. Caldwell-Pope was also in double figures with 13 points and four rebounds.
For the Lakers, Davis had 21 points, 14 boards and three blocks, but he made just 6-of-15 FGAs. Austin Reaves contributed 17 points in the losing effort.
If Miami wins Game 4 tonight at home vs. Boston, it will be the first time in NBA history that there have been two sweeps in the conference finals. In that scenario, the NBA Finals will start in the Mile High City on June 1.