Lakers Face Criticism and a 2-0 Deficit After Game 2 Loss to Nuggets
LeBron James, Lakers
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are returning home with a 2-0 series deficit after a heart-wrenching 101-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of their first-round series in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Despite leading by as much as 20 points, the Lakers suffered a late-game collapse at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado, which concluded with a buzzer-beater from Jamal Murray.

LeBron James, visibly frustrated during the postgame press conference, criticized the NBA’s officiating, particularly angered by an overturned call involving teammate D’Angelo Russell. “I don’t understand what’s going on in the replay center,” James exclaimed, referring to an incident where Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. hit Russell in the face during a third-quarter drive. Denver challenged and reversed the initial foul call, adding to the Lakers’ frustrations.

The Lakers had a commanding 15-point lead at halftime, which they maintained into the fourth quarter. However, Denver’s aggressive 22-8 run in the final period erased the Lakers’ advantage, setting up a dramatic finish. After James’ layup put the Lakers up by two, Murray quickly responded to tie the game and then sealed the Nuggets’ victory with a step-back jumper as time expired.

The loss has drawn significant criticism from fans and commentators alike, who lamented the Lakers’ inability to close out the game. This marks the second consecutive game in which the Lakers have relinquished a double-digit lead, continuing a troubling pattern from last season’s playoffs, when Denver eliminated them in the Western Conference Finals.

As the series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3, the Lakers must turn around their fortunes and avoid a daunting 3-0 deficit. The game is scheduled for Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, providing the Lakers with a crucial opportunity to leverage home-court advantage and reignite their playoff hopes.

Phoenix Suns vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns will play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. The Timberwolves hold a 1-0 series lead and are -3.5 favorites at minimum deposit sportsbooks.

After concluding the regular season with a three-game win streak and a series sweep over the Timberwolves, the Suns (0-1 postseason) entered the playoffs with high hopes. Despite leading after the first quarter in the opener, Phoenix struggled in the middle quarters, ultimately falling 120-95. Kevin Durant led the Suns with 31 points and seven rebounds, while Devin Booker and Bradley Beal contributed 18 and 15 points, respectively.

Injury reports for Phoenix list Grayson Allen as questionable due to an ankle issue, while Damion Lee will miss the game due to a knee injury.

The Timberwolves (1-0 postseason) capitalized on a robust performance by Anthony Edwards, who scored 33 points, and a double-double from Rudy Gobert. Karl-Anthony Towns also made a significant impact with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Kyle Anderson is questionable for the upcoming game due to a hip injury.

This game marks the fifth encounter between these teams this season, with the Suns having won three of the previous four matchups.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Indiana Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks will host the Indiana Pacers at Fiserv Forum on Monday evening for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series. The Bucks are -1.5 point favorites to take the second game at home.

Despite the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a calf injury, the Bucks secured a commanding victory in Game 1, spearheaded by Damian Lillard’s 35-point performance in the first half. The Bucks, who held a 27-point halftime lead, saw their advantage diminish in the third quarter but regained control to maintain a solid lead through to the finish.

Lillard ended the game with 35 points, while Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis added 23 and 15 points, respectively. Pascal Siakam led the Pacers with 36 points, exploiting Antetokounmpo’s absence, supported by Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell.

With Antetokounmpo likely out for Game 2, the Bucks will lean on Lillard, Middleton, and Portis to preserve their home-court advantage while the Pacers aim to adjust and improve their performance.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Los Angeles Clippers are set to continue their home stand against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the Western Conference First-Round Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena on Tuesday.

Leading the series 1-0, the Clippers dominated Game 1, especially in the first half, despite Kawhi Leonard’s absence from a knee injury. James Harden led the charge with 28 points, followed by Paul George and Ivica Zubac, who played pivotal roles in securing the win.

Despite a solid finish to the regular season, the Mavericks struggled in Game 1, particularly in the second quarter, where they scored only eight points. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combined for 64 points, but the lack of support from the rest of the team was glaring.

The Clippers aim to maintain their momentum and extend their winning streak against Dallas, which has been decided by significant margins in the last three encounters.

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