Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals was a nail-biter that the Los Angeles Lakers were able to come away with a narrow 114-108 victory to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets.
Anthony Davis set the tone early on the offensive end for Los Angeles, scoring the first 12 points off an array of shots in the paint and midrange area. Jamal Murray matched his scoring on the other end, getting behind the Lakers’ defense and hitting jumpers to keep Denver close.
Davis was nearly unstoppable in the first half, but gave the Lakers a massive scare after coming down on a jumper and rolling his ankle. However, the big man stayed in the game and gutted it out to the final minute, providing a boost they desperately need.
Davis once again led the team in scoring with 34 points, including a near perfect 13-of-14 from the free throw line.
Rajon Rondo was a massive spark in the second half as the veteran point guard was able to make play after play that seemed to keep the Nuggets from ever taking control of the game. Rondo made two huge plays in the fourth quarter, nailing a transition pull-up jumper and grabbing a timely offensive rebound to help seal the game.
Rondo also made history as he moved up to eighth on the all-time NBA playoff assist leaderboard, passing Scottie Pippen. He finished with 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel made the decision to start Dwight Howard over JaVale McGee and it was a great move. Howard provided energy from the jump and finished with a near double-double in the first quarter at eight points and eight rebounds. Howard finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
LeBron James had another rough shooting night, converting only seven of his 18 attempts. His jumper was shaky and he appeared uncomfortable shooting from anywhere outside the paint, but he made up for it with stellar defense on Jamal Murray in the fourth quarter.
Despite the poor shooting performance, James also was able to convert clutch free throws to ensure the victory. He was close to recording another triple-double, scoring 26 points to go along with nine rebound and eight assists.
What’s next for Lakers
A 3-1 series deficit is nothing new for the Nuggets who have already come back from it twice this postseason. The past two games have been a wake up call for Los Angeles, so Game 5 will likely be a battle that Denver will be ready for.
With the Nuggets’ playoff lives on the line, the Lakers have to expect a strong start from Nikola Jokic and Murray. If they are able to contain them, they will be punching their ticket to the 2020 NBA Finals.
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