LeBron James Says Lakers ‘Have Given Ourselves Another Life’

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 119-108 in Game 4, which means they still have life remaining after snapping their 11-game losing streak to the defending NBA champs, cutting the series deficit to 3-1. LeBron James scored 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting, making this his 19th career 30-PT game when facing elimination.LeBron James, Lakers, NBA

“The only opportunity for us is just to play the next game,” James said after the Game 4 win. “We’ve given ourselves another life, given ourselves another lifeline.”

While no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series (0-151), the Lakers are not giving up. To point out, the Lakers have actually led most of the series, in particular, through the first four games, LA has been leading for a total of 136:31 minutes, while the Nuggets have only had the lead for 41:53 minutes. Not to mention, the Lakers have also held double-digit leads throughout every game of the series so far, and have yet to be trailing at halftime.

The problem for the Lakers is that the Nuggets have outscored them by 33 points in each of the third quarters throughout the series, while LA has outscored Denver by a total of 24 points in all of the other quarters.  

“I thought the third quarter was very important,” James said. “You know we’ve had a lead in a lot of these games, and then to start the second half they’ve jumped on us. Even though they outscored us by two [3rd quarter], we scored with them to keep the lead at 11, we was up 13 at the half… they scored 32 in the third, but we was able to put up 30, so you know, that definitely helped us going into the fourth. And then the fourth for me was just a mindset to try to close it out, you know make plays, make winning plays, and I was able to make a few.”

Notably, the NBA’s regular season and postseason all-time leading scorer had 14 fourth-quarter points, making 6 out of 8 shots. And the dagger came with 2:40 left in the game when LeBron stole the ball and went coast-to-coast, dunking it on the other end to give the Lakers a 111-98 lead.

In Saturday night’s contest, the Lakers did not roll over as some thought they would, considering 61% of the time in NBA history when a team is down 3-0, they go on to also lose Game 4. Facing elimination, the home team was locked in from start to finish, shooting 52.2% from the field as a team. Anthony Davis had 25 points and tied his playoff career-high with 23 rebounds, while also adding six assists. 

“It’s tough to get swept,” Davis said in the press conference while reminiscing on last season when the Nuggets swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. “Nobody wants that feeling, especially going to the summer… We know what’s at stake. Nobody wants that feeling in your mouth for the rest of the summer. The way we played tonight is the way we have to play the rest of the series.”

D’Angelo Russell scored 21 points (4-for-8 3PT) after scoring zero in Game 3 (0-for-6 3P). Austin Reaves also contributed 21 points and six assists to help deny the sweep. 

“We get another opportunity to go play one more game, and if we win, come back and play another one and keep moving from there,” Reaves stated postgame. “Odds aren’t stacked in our favor, but anytime we can keep ourselves floating above water and give ourselves an opportunity to do something special, we’re up for the challenge.”

Nikola Jokic recorded his 18th career playoff triple-double in a loss, putting up 33 points (10-of-20 FG), 14 rebounds, and 14 assists, but it wasn’t enough to finish off the series.

“They were really pushing the pace,” Jokic stated. “They had open layups. They were destroying us in the paint… That’s a great team.”

“The paint defense was a joke,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after his team allowed 72 points in the paint in Game 4 and 70 paint points in Game 3.

Michael Porter Jr. scored 27 points (10-of-20 FG) and is now averaging 22 ppg for the series, which is a big bump up from last year’s postseason average of 13.4 ppg. Jamal Murray scored 22 points (9-of-23 FG) and is now shooting 38% for the series. Important to note, Murray appeared to be grabbing at his leg late in the game and walking with a slight limp, which may be something to monitor over the next 48 hours.

The Nuggets will host the Lakers for Game 5 in Denver on Monday, April 29 at 10 p.m. ET,

“It’s a one-game series for us,” James told NBA reporters. “Monday’s game is the most important game of the season for us, we know that.”

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