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Nuggets push Lakers to the brink with 3-0 lead

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Jamal Murray blazed in historic first half of Lakers vs. Nuggets. (Photo credit: Harry Howe/Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets have all the answers they need against the Los Angeles Lakers so far and are now one game away from the sweep.

Trailing Jamal Murray by 37 points, the Nuggets won Game 3 Saturday 119-108 to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals. If the Nuggets win Game 4 in Los Angeles on Monday, they will face the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics for the first title in franchise history.

No team has ever come back from a 0-3 record in an NBA playoff series.

It wasn’t an easy win for Denver, who has played an entire series against the NBA’s biggest teams with a shoulder injury.

MVP runner-up Nikola Jokic had perhaps the quietest game in the postseason (which is telling, considering he still had 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds left), We dealt with foul trouble for most of the game. The Lakers once again enjoyed the free-throw margin, this time beating the Nuggets 29-19. Both LeBron James (23 points, 12 assists) and Anthony Davis (28 points, 18 rebounds) looked like their fearsome selves, or at least a step away from it.

The Nuggets avoided a mistake typically made by the Lakers, committing just five turnovers, and nearly every member of the rotation, especially Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored 32 total points. won by a solid game of

The great halves of each of the Nuggets’ stars didn’t hurt, nor did D’Angelo Russell’s terrible game (3 points on 1-of-8 shooting).

Jamal Murray scores 30 points in the first half

The first half was Murray’s highlight, as the Nuggets’ standout guard delivered a surreal performance of 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting in the first two quarters of Game 2.Around NBA numbersMurray’s 53 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2 and the first half of Game 3 were the most by a player in a three-quarter span in a playoff since 1988.

Murray’s performance gave the Nuggets a maximum 14-point lead in the first quarter, but it wasn’t enough to push the Lakers away. Thanks to Jokic’s quiet first half (5 points on 2-of-8 shooting), free-throw differential (18 to Nuggets’ 7) and Anthony Davis’ excellent start, the Lakers are 58-0 in the first half. It held on to a lead of 55. .

The second half was different in many ways. First, Murray was largely absent after going scoreless midway through the fourth quarter. Jokic woke up a little, and James also succeeded in making two 3-pointers for the first time in the series in consecutive plays.

The Nuggets led most of the second half before finally starting to pull away midway through the fourth quarter with a 13-0 run.

At this point, Jokic was fully recovered and scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. Lakers fans walked out of the Crypto.com arena in the final two minutes, but one has to wonder if they’ll be back on Monday.

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