DENVER – Lebron James missed all six of his three-pointers – including a 0-on-3 mark in the fourth quarter to continue his streak of 19 straight three-pointers he failed to convert in the fourth this postseason. Anthony Davis He managed 11 of his 15 field goal attempts. And the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals to the Nuggets, 108-103to drop consecutive games for the first time since mid-March.
As insurmountable as a 2-0 deficit against the West’s No. 1 team might seem – especially as James and Davis struggled on Thursday – the Lakers league leaders vowed to get back on track with the series’ move to LA to get legs
“I think we improved from Game 1 to Game 2,” James said after 22 points on 9-for-19 shots, 10 assists, 9 rebounds and 4 steals in 40 minutes. “And if we can do the same from Game 2 to Game 3, we’re in position to win.”
After leading as much as 11 points in the third quarter, the Lakers fell 12 points back midway through the fourth quarter. They started an upswing – but Davis missed a three-pointer with 3:15 left that could have reduced the deficit to two; With 40.5 seconds to go, he missed another three to make it just one; and James after he a Jamal Murray Pass, missed a layup with 26.4 seconds left that could have reduced it to two.
“I liked all the looks I got today,” Davis said after scoring 18 points — less than half of his 40 points in Game 1 — with 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. “Only many of them were too short. I’ll keep shooting those shots and I have to be better and more efficient and help the team win. So I will be better.
The Lakers will host Game 3 on Saturday (8:30 ET, ABC) at the Crypto.com Arena, where they are 7-0 between rounds of play-ins against the Lakers this postseason Minnesota Timberwolvesthe first round against the Memphis Grizzlies and the second round against the Golden State Warriors.
But the stubborn nuggets – with Nikola Jokić and Murray, both of whom looked dominant in the first two games, are another beast.
However, the Lakers — only the second No. 7s to ever reach the conference finals — are not going to give up now.
And unsurprisingly, James was supported by his team. He brought them to this place as a 38-year veteran in his 20th season and they won’t stop trusting him now.
“I mean, he can shoot all he wants,” he said Austin Reaves. “It’s LeBron James. I don’t think anyone bats an eyelid when they take a shot or question their shot. We want him to take what he’s comfortable with simply because he’s been a successful basketball player his entire career and that’s all he wants to do, he wants to win.
After James fell back to 10-0 from three-point range in the Conference Finals, Ham said, “He was open, they’re playing against him. He’s an extremely capable three-pointer, he let it fly.”
James guarded Jokic for most of the night and felt the influence of the two-time MVP’s 1.8m tall and 110kg stature. But James didn’t use the fatigue as an excuse for the missed shots.
“If you’re not tired in the postseason…” he said, trailing off. “I mean, everyone’s tired.”
Nor did he want to keep his left ankle, which he twisted late in the fourth game, from playing in the third game. James said he stepped on the floor Aaron Gordonbut replays showed it was Davis’ foot.
“A little ankle [injury] won’t stop me,” James told ESPN.
According to a study by ESPN Stats & Information, teams have a 6-56 all-time series record when they trail 2-0 in the conference finals. But two of those comebacks have been orchestrated by James’ teams – with Cleveland in 2007 and again in 2018.
“We still had to play with the same desperation that we did tonight,” James said. “We came out with an L, but that doesn’t give us any consolation. We can’t go into a postseason game with any consolation just because you either didn’t lose at home or you’re going home.”
This could mark the first time in a row that the Lakers have gone through all of the playoffs, but it’s not the first time the Lakers have been down this season, as coach Darvin Ham reminded reporters before the start of Game 2.
“I was 2:10, 0:5 behind,” said Ham, looking back on his side’s start in October. “You’re never as good as they say, and you’re never as bad as they say. You just have to look at each day as a separate entity. Every day, every game is an opportunity to go out and get better. Never get too high and never get too low.