Nuggets Show Why They’re No. 1 in Bouncing Lakers, Advancing to Finals

Even when the Nuggets aren’t at their best, they’re still pretty good.Nikola Jokic

That’s right, the Nuggets are headed to the Finals for the first time in franchise history — courtesy of a 113-111 nail-biter of a Game 4 road win over the Lakers in the Western Conference finals on Monday.

So yes, it was a clean sweep for the Nuggets, who now have nine days off before they meet the winner of the Heat-Celtics series for the championship.

Not surprisingly, Nikola Jokic led the way with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and a remarkable step-back 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.

But as always, it was a teamwide effort that got it done for Denver. Jamal Murray scored 25 points, Aaron Gordon had 22, Michael Porter Jr. had 15, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 13.

Of course, as good as the offense always is, it was the Nuggets’ proficiency at the other end that played the biggest role — as they overcame a 15-point halftime deficit in a closeout game.

Then, with the final seconds ticking away, and LeBron James driving, the Nuggets held their ground.

Game. Set. Series. On to the Finals.

“What you guys did is not easy,” coach Michael Malone told his players in the locker room, via ESPN. “You’ve been saying it all year long, the goal is not to just get to the Finals.”

And now, the Nuggets become the fourth and final team from the old ABA that joined the NBA in 1976 to reach the Finals. The Spurs, Pacers and Nets are the others.

James led the Lakers with 40 points, but scored just 10 of those in the second half.

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