The Los Angeles Lakers suffered from several dry spells and stretches of sloppy play and needed a buzzer-beater from Anthony Davis for a 105-103 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, taking a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
It was an offensive struggle for both teams as they failed to convert on good looks, but LeBron James carried the scoring burden for the Lakers by putting in their first 12 points. However, the rest of the starters were unable to catch a break, missing wide open shots.
That allowed Denver to initially jump out ahead, but Los Angeles’ defense was able to force a couple of turnovers that allowed them to get into transition. Davis took over the offense with James on the bench, going straight at Nikola Jokic and helping give the Lakers team a 29-21 lead after one.
It was the Nuggets bench that came out firing to begin the second quarter, as Michael Porter Jr. and Monte Morris cut into the deficit. James was forced to look for his shot more, draining a three at the top over Mason Plumlee and barreling to the rim for an and-1 opportunity.
Continuing his impressive play from Game 1, Dwight Howard made an immediate impact with his stellar one-on-one defense on Jokic and flushing down a Rajon Rondo lob. Alex Caruso also made his presence felt defensively, jumping the passing lanes and finishing at the rim to put the Lakers up 60-50 at half time.
The Lakers picked up their defensive effort coming out of the locker room as they used their size well when contesting shots. Denver responded with a quick 8-2 run to bring the game within single digits, capped off by a Paul Millsap and-1.
Turnovers started piling up for L.A. as they got careless with the ball, but Davis’ scoring kept the Nuggets at bay. A sloppy close to the quarter gave Denver life and they went into the fourth quarter only trailing by four points.
The Nuggets briefly tied the game, but James and Kyle Kuzma lay-ins kept the Lakers ahead. Danny Green and Rondo also nailed back-to-back 3s to provide some breathing room, but PJ Dozier answered with plays of his own to keep Denver in it.
It was a battle midway through the final period as they traded big baskets that seemed to swing the momentum each time. The game appeared like it was going to tilt in the Lakers’ favor for good after Dozier missed a pair of free throws and Davis connected on a 3-pointer to beat the shot lock.
However, they hit another drought and the Nuggets kept plugging away. Jokic’s 3-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to one point with just over a minute remaining. Denver then took the lead on a Jokic tap-in, but Davis answered to put the Lakers back ahead.
The Nuggets went to Jokic out of a timeout, as he easily backed Davis in for a go-ahead hook shot. But the Lakers were left with 21 seconds, and got two shots on their final possession, with Davis sinking a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
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