NBA roundup: James stars as Lakers stay alive with win over Nuggets


NBA roundup: James stars as Lakers stay alive with win over Nuggets

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers after making a slam dunk against the Denver Nuggets
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers after making a slam dunk against the Denver NuggetsAFP
The Los Angeles Lakers, fueled by 30 points from superstar LeBron James, stayed alive in the NBA playoffs on Saturday with a 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Down 3-0 to the defending champions and facing elimination, the Lakers stood firm on their home floor, weathering a triple-double from Nuggets star Nikola Jokic to send the series back to Denver for game five on Monday.

After the Lakers let double-digit leads evaporate in losing each of the first three games, James scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to ensure it didn't happen again.

"I love the fourth quarter," James said. "I understand it is close-out time and we haven't been able to do that versus this team through three games.

"So tonight I had an opportunity to do that and I wanted to deliver," added the 39-year-old, who connected on six of eight shots in the final period, drew a charge and came up with a steal that he parlayed into a dunk at the other end.

But the four-time NBA champion wasn't ready to celebrate the Lakers' first win over Denver in 12 contests, since December of 2022, knowing that no NBA team has rallied from 3-0 down to win a playoff series.

"We're still down 3-1," he said. "So each and every game will be its own challenge. We took care of business tonight to extend the series, but we've got to be even better."

Anthony Davis added 25 points and a whopping 23 rebounds for Los Angeles. Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell scored 21 points apiece.

Russell repaid the faith of coach Darvin Ham, who kept him in the starting lineup after he went scoreless in game three.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 33 points with 14 rebounds and 14 assists. Michael Porter Jr. added 25 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Murray added 16 for the Nuggets in defeat.

Double-digit duo

Saturday's other three games were lopsided affairs, as Eastern Conference top-seeds Boston rebounded from a shock home loss to the eighth-seeded Heat with a 104-84 victory in Miami that put the Celtics up 2-1.

The Thunder, winners of their first two games against the Pelicans in Oklahoma City, pressed their advantage in New Orleans with a 106-85 thrashing that gave them a 3-0 stranglehold on their Western Conference series.

Elsewhere, the Orlando Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-89 to level their Eastern Conference series at two games apiece, and in Miami, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 22 points apiece, Tatum adding 11 rebounds and six assists as the Celtics led from start to finish.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points and Derrick White chipped in 16 for the Celtics, who allowed the Heat the fewest points of any Celtics opponent this season.

"Once they got up double digits, their pressure started to pick up," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They were the more physical team, they bodied us, bullied us."

Boston led 21-12 after the first quarter and erupted for 42 points in the second period. They were up by 24 points at half-time and pushed the lead to as many as 29 in the second half.

Thunder on the brink

Miami, who had just nine three-pointers after raining 23 treys in their game two victory, will try to regroup when they host game four on Monday.

That's when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder will have a chance to close out the Pelicans in New Orleans.

With Zion Williamson sidelined with a hamstring strain, the Pels have had no answer for the young Thunder team led by Most Valuable Player award finalist Gilgeous-Alexander, who led the Thunder on Saturday with 24 points five rebounds and eight assists.

The Thunder drained 17 three-pointers and after taking a 60-46 lead into half-time pushed their advantage to as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.

Jalen Williams and Josh Giddey scored 21 points apiece for the Thunder.

Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 19 and CJ McCollum added 16, but New Orleans made just nine of their 32 three-point attempts and turned the ball over 21 times.

In Orlando, Franz Wagner scored 32 points and the Magic dominated Cleveland in the second half.

The Cavs scored just 10 points in the third quarter and 29 in the second half, going more than six minutes without scoring.


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