Jamal Murray came started the game white-hot, scoring 30 of his 37 points in the first half. When the Murray express sputtered in the second half, timely baskets and plays from Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Bruce Brown, who finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively, helped the Nuggets keep the Lakers at bay and helped Denver claim a 119-108 victory to put the series in a 3-0 stranglehold.
The Nuggets led by twelve, 32-20 at the end of the first quarter. Jamal Murray came out sharp, dropping 17 points on 7-9 from the floor in the opening 12 minutes of play. Denver shot 60% ( 12-20) and the Lakers 7-23 in the quarter.
The Lakers outscored the Nuggets 10-4 over the first three minutes of the second quarter to slice the lead in half at 36-30. The Lakers continued to chip away the Nuggets’ lead, tying the game at 55 on a pair of Austin Reeves free throws. Reeves scored all 14 of his first-half points in the second quarter. Murray would find Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a corner three late in the quarter to Denver a 58-55 lead, an advantage they would carry into the half.
Murray cooled off in the third quarter, missing all four of his shot attempts, and Nikola Jokic, picked up his fourth foul early in the period, rendering him a spectator for the majority of the frame. Caldwell-Pope picked up the slack, scoring 11 points in the frame, which help to stave off a surging Lakers team that tied the game after falling behind by seven earlier in the quarter.
The Lakers would claim the lead for the first time since they enjoyed a 9-7 lead briefly in the first quarter on Rui Hachimura’s three-pointer that made the score 85-84. Another Hachimura jumper shortly thereafter would put the Lakers back in front for the last time on the evening at 87-86. Nikola Jokic responded with a basket that handed the lead back to Denver at 88-87 and ultimately proved to put the Nuggets up for good.
After being saddled with foul trouble and subpar play, shooting 4-12 through the first three quarters, Nikola Jokic finally came alive and scored 16 points on 5/7 from the floor in the quarter to finish with 24 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.
After a puny 4-15 performance in Game 2, Anthony Davis bounced back with 28 points and 18 rebounds on 11/18 shooting. Lebron James added 23 points and 12 assists. Austin Reeves turned in a solid performance, putting in 23 points and Rui Hachimura added 13 points off the Lakers bench.
The Lakers will now look to extend their season for another 48 minutes with a win on Monday night, while the Nuggets will look to punch their ticket to the first NBA Finals in franchise history.