The Lakers were 6-0 in home playoff games prior to tonight. They are now 6-1, and — after losing to the Denver Nuggets, 119-108 — are now one loss away from the end of their season.
The defeat puts the Lakers in a 0-3 hole, a deficit no team has ever come back from to win a series. Teams with a 3-0 lead are 149-0 in playoff series in NBA history.
Jamal Murray and the Nuggets picked up where they left off in Game 2, as Murray started the game 5-5 from the field and clearly hunted for a matchup with D’Angelo Russell every chance he got.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers on both ends of the floor during the opening minutes, scoring nine points in the first and having an impressive block on Nikola Jokić, which energized the Lakers crowd.
That energy fizzled out midway through the first, however, as Denver went on a 13-0 run to lead 20-9 with a little over five minutes left in the quarter. LeBron made a couple of field goals, including a long two with his foot on the line, but L.A. couldn’t gain much ground as they trailed by a dozen heading into the second.
This group -- Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, LeBron James, Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV -- has trimmed Denver's lead from 12 to six. They've held their own defensively and are getting downhill and drawing fouls. Timeout Nuggets with 9:00 left in the second quarter.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) May 21, 2023
The NBA is a game of runs, and L.A. went on a 10-4 one thanks to Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker. Rui Hachimura got in on the fun scoring on a pair of mid-range jumpers, and after a Bron to AD lob, the Lakers trailed by just six.
Murray responded with another 3-pointer; the Denver guard has been the best version of himself in this series as he had 37 points in Game 3, 30 points in the first half tonight and ended the night with 37.
Reaves was sensational on the offensive side responding with drives to the basket, 3-point makes and grabbing defensive rebounds. James grabbed one of those defensive rebounds and gained enough steam to go coast to coast on Aaron Gordon, and after Reaves converted on a pair of free throws, L.A. was down by just three at the half.
Austin Reaves for three— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2023
TIE GAME in Q3 on ABC! pic.twitter.com/TdrCfDi1LR
With Jokić earning his fourth foul early in the third the Lakers had a chance to take advantage with Joker heading to the bench. L.A. did just that with Reaves stepping up once again hitting a three to even the game up at 71.
Denver weathered the storm without their star, however, with former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Porter Jr. carrying the offensive burden. But after James finally caught fire from three, Denver was up by just two with twelve minues left.
Ultimately, though, with the season hanging in the balance, the Lakers needed to dominate in the fourth. They couldn’t do it.
Rui stepped up once again with a wing three and an elbow jumper to give L.A. a one-point edge, but Denver responded with three threes by Jeff Green, Bruce Brown and Murray to regain the lead and go on a 13-0 run.
L.A. was never able to make a run in response, and a dagger three by MPJ sealed the Lakers' fate as Darvin emptied out the bench with a minute left.
Down 0-3, not many positives for Los Angeles. D’Angelo Russell has struggled, Jarred Vanderbilt’s defense hasn’t made up for his offense and LeBron James looks like a shell of himself. The season is on the line Monday, as another defeat would send the Lakers to Cancun. Even if they manage to stave off vacation then, it’s hard to imagine they do so for much longer.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.