The Denver Nuggets outperformed the Los Angeles Lakers in a 114-106 victory, snatching Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Surprisingly, L.A. seemed particularly vulnerable on the glass which proved costly in the key moment of the series.
The Lakers are averaging 44 rebounds while allowing their opponents to register 37.6 boards per game in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. But in Game 3, the Nuggets out-rebounded L.A. 44 to 25.
Anthony Davis — who is averaging 10 rebounds a game this postseason — pulled down only two himself, an outcome he said was “unacceptable.”
“Have to do a better job on the glass, personally. I can’t have two rebounds for an entire game,” Davis added.
Denver’s intensity caused the Lakers to underperform on multiple levels. They knocked down just 23% of their 3-point attempts while often settling for difficult jump shots.
“We feel like we are a great jump-shooting team, but we also get to the basket well,” Davis said. “We have to also realize that they close out very hard. They don’t really stop short. They are contesting our jump shots — pump fakes and drive it to the basket, re-driving and finding an open teammate is also a solution.”
The Nuggets have been much more aggressive since halftime in Game 2, losing the previous meeting only thanks to Davis’ miraculous game-winning dagger three. Denver then staved off L.A.’s late run to claim the Game 3 victory.
But Davis believes the Lakers are still in control of the series. However, he pointed out L.A. needs to remain consistent throughout the game. “Our defense was great in the fourth quarter. We got to be able to do that for all four, all 48 minutes,” he noted.
“We can’t not play in the first three and then expect to win a game in the fourth. If we come out and play our style of basketball, you know, pushing the pace and being scrappy and being the aggressors, especially on defense, we’ll be fine.”
James: Murray’s elbow not on purpose
Denver’s aggressiveness manifested itself when Nuggets star Jamal Murray hit LeBron James in the face with his elbow as the Lakers All-Star was setting a screen in the third quarter.
Following a review, the referees called a Flagrant 1 foul on Murray but did not eject him from the game. However, James did not think the guard’s play was ill-wished. “I don’t think it was blatant, but I don’t know his mindset,” James said after the loss.
“But I don’t think he did it on purpose. I was OK with it. You know, went down for a little bit. Got back up and was ready to play.”
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