ORLANDO – Anthony Davis’ 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
“Special moment for a special player. Happy to be a part of it,” LeBron James said of Davis’ shot.
Davis, who scored the last 10 Laker points, delivered 22 of his 31 points in the second half for the Lakers, who hold a 2-0 series lead. Davis also finished with nine rebounds.
“Special moment for me, special moment for the team, especially in a situation like that trying to go up 2-0 against a special team, who are great competitors and (fought) for the entire 48 minutes,” Davis said of the Lakers, who played the game in their Kobe Bryant-designed “Black Mamba” jerseys.
“So, to do something like in the jerseys we wore tonight makes it even more special.”
James contributed 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who blew a 16-point third-quarter lead. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in 11 points, as did Danny Green.
Nikola Jokic had 30 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals for the Nuggets, while Jamal Murray added 25 points and Michael Porter Jr. scored 15 off the bench.
“We lost the game but I think we played well most of the game,” Jokic said. “We were down (and) we came back again, so we’re going to keep our heads up until the next one.”
The first of Davis’ two 3-pointers came with 3:03 to play and gave the Lakers a 100-92 lead. But Jokic scored the game’s next seven points, including a 3-pointer to slice the margin to 100-99 with 1:04 left.
— NBA (@NBA) September 21, 2020
After Caldwell-Pope misfired on a shot, Jokic got the rebound, helped push the ball down the floor, then tipped a Murray miss for a 101-100 lead with 31.8 seconds left. Davis scored to give the lead back to the Lakers with 26.7 seconds remaining.
Jokic’s basket in the lane put Denver up 103-102 with 20.8 seconds left. Alex Caruso missed a 3-point shot with 6.9 seconds left but Green got the rebound and took another shot. That one was blocked and the ball went out of bounds, setting the Lakers up for Davis’ game winner.
“It’s not about making the shot,” James said. “It’s about having the belief with just taking it for one and living with the result.”
Denver coach Michael Malone tried to look at the positive side despite the crushing defeat.
“We gave ourselves a chance tonight,” Malone said. “Unfortunately, Anthony Davis hit an incredible shot to kind of take that win away from us. Defensive transition was tremendous. If we can continue that, we’ll continue to give ourselves a chance.”
In the third, the Lakers went up 70-54 after Green’s 3-pointer less than four minutes into the quarter, but the Nuggets outscored the Lakers 24-12 the rest of the quarter to pull within 82-78 heading into the fourth quarter.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 21, 2020
A 10-2 run by the Nuggets allowed them to cut the Lakers’ lead to 35-33 after a Porter Jr. tip-in with 8:42 left in the second quarter. But the Lakers answered with a 20-7 surge after a 3-pointer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope six minutes later for a 55-40 advantage.
By the break, the Lakers owned a 60-50 edge. James had 20 points in the first half to lead all scorers.
Both teams were sloppy taking care of the ball. The Lakers committed 23 turnovers to 19 for the Nuggets.
Game 3 is on Tuesday
Field Level Media via Reuters