Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Nuggets – Game 4 – 2023

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (43-39) | Denver Nuggets (53-29)


The Los Angeles Lakers failed to prolong their season, losing Game 4 113-111 to the Denver Nuggets, finishing the series 0-4.

The Lakers vs Nuggets played at the Arena on Monday.

Lakers vs Nuggets LeBron James
Photo Credit: Wally Skalij/LA Times

The Denver Nuggets swept the Los Angeles Lakers to advance to their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

It’s been a hell of a year,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. “To go through those tough times early, everybody pulling the rope in the same direction, it was a very special year.”

LeBron James played out of his mind, doing all he could by totaling 40 points (15-of-25 FGs, 4-for-7 3s, 6-of-7 FTs), ten rebounds, nine assists, and two steals, all while playing a nearly full 48 minutes.

We had a great run,” James said. “But we fell short of our goal, which is winning championships.”

James had 21 points in the first quarter alone, the most he’s had in a quarter this postseason. That performance also tied his playoff career high in an opening quarter.

James’ 21 points are also the most by a Laker in a playoff quarter since Kobe Bryant had 21 in a third quarter on May 17th, 2010.

James finished the first half with 31 points, the highest-scoring half of his playoff career. His previous high was 30 points against the Boston Celtics in 2012.

LeBron James did all he could

I got a lot to think about,” James said postgame. “Just personally, with me moving forward with the game of basketball, I got a lot to think about.”

The start of the Lakers vs Nuggets’ first half. 

Lakers vs Nuggets Lebron James
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

James was incredible, but the Lakers needed significant contributions from other players.

Anthony Davis struggled mightily through the first three quarters, only having 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field. However, he finished the game with 21 points (6-of-15 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs), 14 rebounds, and three blocks.

It hurts right now,” Davis said. “It’s tough. Credit to Denver. They’re a great team. Their players played well throughout the series. It hurts, it stings, you gotta carry it into next season and use it as fuel.”

I’m always the guy to look in the mirror,” Davis added. “I’m my own toughest critic. I know there were times this season where I could’ve played better, and I know there were also times where I played really well.”

Austin Reaves never thought he’d be starting for a Conference Finalist. He made the most of it, finishing Game 4 with 17 points (6-of-11 FGs) and three assists.

Honestly, I’m proud of myself,” Reaves said. “In high school, I didn’t have many offers. To be on this stage and perform, it feels good.”

Considering the Lakers’ 2-10 start and being 13th in the West back in late February, making the Western Conference Finals was a massive turnaround for Los Angeles post-trade deadline.

Take some time to take stock of what this meant,” Ham said.”I thanked them for this season, for supporting me, and buying in. No one wants to go out like this, but the thing that gives me joy is we competed every night, every series.”

For the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic was named the Western Conference Finals MVP. In Game 4, Jokic locked in and put up 30 points (11-of-24 FGs, 3-for-6 3s), 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and three blocks. 

The end of the Lakers vs Nuggets’ first half. 

Jokic now has the most triple-doubles in a single postseason run with eight, passing Wilt Chamberlain. 

The start of the Lakers vs Nuggets’ second half. 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP

Jamal Murray came up big again with 25 points (10-of-18 FGs, 0-for-4 3s), three rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Aaron Gordon was 0-for-6 from 3 before this one, and the Lakers let him shoot. However, he made them pay for it, finishing 3-for-5 from 3, totaling 22 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.

The Lakers finally moved D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt to the bench in Game 4 against the Nuggets. Dennis Schroder, Reaves, Rui Hachimura, James, and Davis started.

The Lakers started their best lineup and got off to their first good start of the series. All the while, the Nuggets started cold, and Los Angeles took advantage. The Lake Show opened up Game 4 with an 11-4 lead.

The Lakers couldn’t buy a bucket in the third quarter. A 15-point halftime lead turned into a five-point deficit entering the fourth quarter as Denver outscored Los Angeles 36-16 in the third. That was the Lakers’ lowest-scoring quarter of the playoffs.

The Nuggets played a very conservative drop on defense, sinking in and letting the Lakers shoot threes.

Denver hit some unreal end-of-clock shots this series, especially after Jokic had a one-legged, fading three fall with 2:50 to play.

James’ shot to tie the game hit the side of the backboard, but the Lakers got a stop on the Murray post-up and called a timeout. They were down two, 113-111, with their season on the line and four seconds remaining.

However, James would get the ball and drive directly into a double team, with Murray preventing James from even getting a shot up.

This is year one,” Ham said. “Losing sucks, but I think we can do something special here.”

This wasn’t the end goal for us,” Davis said. “We don’t do moral victories. We play to win championships.”

The final score of the Lakers vs Nuggets was 113-111, Nuggets.

This loss effectively ends the Lakers’ season while the Nuggets await the winner of the Miami Heat/Boston Celtics series.


– Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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