Nuggets One Win Away from NBA Finals After Murray, Jokic Sink Lakers

Saturday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw quite arguably the biggest win in the franchise history of the Denver Nuggets. They have taken a 3-0 lead over the Los Angeles Lakers with a 119-108 win on the road that was highlighted by Jamal Murray’s early dominance and the closing ability of Nikola Jokic.

Murray Picks Up Where He Left Off

LeBron James
Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI/ABACAPRESS.COM – Photo by Icon sport

Jamal Murray was the hero of Game 2 when he scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nuggets to another win and 2-0 lead. Murray came out just as hot in Game 3 on the road after claiming to the media that the Nuggets are still undervalued in the playoffs.

In the first quarter, Murray was 8-of-10 from the field as he scored 17 points, carrying the Nuggets to a 32-20 lead despite Nikola Jokic not scoring a point in the first frame. The Lakers meanwhile kept missing shot after shot.

But the Lakers would shoot 75% (12-of-16) in the second quarter and get right back into the game behind 15 points from Austin Reaves, who again impressed for the third game in a row this series.

Murray also scored another 13 points, giving him 53 points over his last three quarters. But the Nuggets only led 58-55 at halftime as Murray was playing like a one-man show.

Denver’s Pivotal Run

The third quarter was tightly played with the Lakers having a slight 27-26 edge. Anthony Davis scored 11 points in the quarter on his way to a team-high 28 points in the game. But D’Angelo Russell was 1-for-8 from the field and only scored 3 points as he remains a huge negative for the Lakers in this series.

On the first basket of the fourth quarter, LeBron James notched his 10th assist on a 3-point shot by Rui Hachimura and the Lakers led 85-84. Hachimura would later hit a free throw to put the Lakers up 94-93 with 7:48 left, but the Lakers made a questionable move to rest LeBron at this point.

Denver immediately made back-to-back 3-point shots as they would finish the game with plus-21 points in made 3s over the Lakers. LeBron quickly came back in, but the damage was already rolling along as Denver went on a 13-0 run to lead 106-94 with just under 5:00 left.

LeBron would hit a 3 to make it 108-101, but the Lakers never got closer than that the rest of the way. James finished with 23 points on 19 shots as he was 3-of-9 from 3-point territory. He also had 7 rebounds and 12 assists, but it was not enough to overcome Denver’s offense.

Even though Murray was limited to 7 points in the second half, his early damage put Denver in good position in Game 3. Jokic finished as you would expect a 2-time MVP to finish. He had 15 points in the fourth quarter before finishing with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists – a quiet game for his standards.

The Lakers have had a chance in all three games but found a way to lose them all. Denver is one win away from its first NBA Finals appearance, and no team in NBA history has blown a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 series.

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