The Denver Nuggets fought back in a big way in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. Despite a huge Los Angeles Lakers rally in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets were able to hold on for an eight-point win.
Prior to the game going final, there was an interesting moment between two of the biggest stars in the series, LeBron James and Jamal Murray. As James tried to set a screen in the third quarter, Murray hit him in the face with an elbow.
Though it was unclear whether or not it was done on purpose, Murray was facing James when the incident occurred which made some question his intentions. James himself however, was not one of those.
“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.”
The fact that James is fine and willing to move on from the elbow should allow everyone else to do the same. The referees did review the play and ruled it a Flagrant 1, which gave the Lakers two free throws and the ball, but did not eject Murray from the contest.
“I don’t care about Flagrant 1 or Flagrant 2. I don’t want him to come out of the game. I like the competition,” James added. “I was cool with the ruling. I was OK with them saying a Flagrant 1. I ain’t here to fight.”
While some may have expected that to jump start the Lakers, the opposite wound up happening. Denver outscored them 26-12 following James’ free throw attempts, pushing their lead out to 20 points in the quarter.
James led a massive Lakers run in the fourth quarter that cut Denver’s lead to three, but the Lakers just couldn’t get over the final hump.
Things have gotten pretty chippy in the series, but that has mostly been between the bigs as Dwight Howard has made it his purpose to agitate Nikola Jokic. Things like this are bound to happen in a competitive playoff series, but James is far more focused on changing the outcome in Game 4 as opposed to this singular moment.
Corrections for Game 4
The Lakers again saw their turnovers lead to offense for the Nuggets, and this time they couldn’t offset it with a heroic effort late.
“I think offensively we were very good. At times, we weren’t. I think we just got to do a better job, like Coach was saying, of getting to the paint and once the defense collapses, just finding our guys weak side,” James said.
“If it’s a guy that’s slashing, through a weak side to the paint or if it’s a guy that’s spotted up on our side off one of our bigs, getting behind the defense for a lob. Denver has been a pretty good defensive team all year. We understand that. I’m looking forward to seeing our film session and continue to get better.”
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