Lakers vs nuggets
Photo Credit: LA Times

Game Preview: Lakers vs Nuggets – Western Conference Finals – Game 3

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(#1) Los Angeles Lakers (10-2)  |  (#3) Denver Nuggets (8-8)

 

After an exciting finish in Game 2, the Lakers will look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over Denver.

 

Down one with 2.1 left on the clock, Anthony Davis hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. It has been a while since a man in a Lakers uniform made a game-winning three like that at the buzzer, but for Lakers fans, it was a familiar feeling. When that ball went in the net, you just knew that the presence of the Mamba was in the building.

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

It could have been those beautiful black uniforms that they were wearing, which the Lakers are now 3-0 in so far. Or the fact that Davis said,Kobe,” after knocking down the shot. Perhaps it could be that the team and staff end all of their huddles yelling,Mamba.” All I know is that Kobe Bryant was with the team there as Davis took that shot.

After the game, Los Angeles head coach Frank Vogel stated that seeing Davis make that shot reminded him of those old highlights of Bryant knocking down those game-winners.

Davis said postgame that he wants to take those shots and understands that he wants that to be his legacy. He knows that up until this point, he is a bit unproven in the postseason and wants to make it known that he is built for those moments. Davis also stated that the Lakers do not ever want to lose while wearing those Bryant-inspired uniforms.

 

For a second there, it looked like they were going to let this one slip away. Los Angeles was winning pretty comfortably throughout the game; but once again, the Denver Nuggets looked like they were going to another one of their second half comebacks. In what felt like a blink of the eye, Denver went from being down double digits to taking the lead.

 

The Lakers were dominant the entire game until the last few minutes, and then it became a standoff with both teams trading buckets. To be specific, it was Davis and Nikola Jokic trading buckets in an epic big man match-up. Jokic did all he could to help get his team get over the hump, but in the end, it just was not enough. Even on the final play, Jokic was not even guarding Davis, but left his man and ran over to put a hand up on Davis while he was rising to shoot. But some things were just meant to be, and that shot was one of them.

The ironic thing is that the last time the Lakers made a game-winning shot in the postseason also happened to be in the Western Conference Finals back in 2010. Bryant attempted a three but air-balled, luckily the ball landed in the hands of Ron Artest, who quickly put the ball back in the basket as time expired. Los Angeles would go on to defeat the Phoenix Suns in the next game to advance to the NBA Finals, where they won that epic seven-game series over those hated Boston Celtics.

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Lakers Nation

After Game 2, on “Inside the NBA” on TNT, they noted the actual last time the Lakers made a game-winning three-pointer in a postseason game was in 2002. Lakers fans remember the shot as the moment Robert Horry became “Big Shot Bob.”

With Los Angeles trailing the Sacramento Kings with mere seconds left on the clock, Bryant took a shot that missed. Shaquille O’Neal then missed the putback attempt, which led to Vlade Divac swatting the ball out of the way. It seemed like it was a done deal, but then suddenly, the ball just found its way into the hands of Horry, and the rest is history.

Even after Game 2, the Kings tweeted to the Nuggets, giving them sympathy for losing by a game-winner. They stated that they knew the feeling with a sad face emoji. That Horry three still stings for them to this day. But hey, it sucks to suck, am I right?

 

For the Nuggets, it has to hurt to climb all that way back and still lose. Now in Game 3, we will see if they can continue that momentum they carried to rally. Or perhaps watching Davis knocking down that shot killed their spirit for the rest of this series.

 

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Flipboard

It was their depth once again that helped keep them in the game. Jokic and Jamal Murray did their thing as usual. Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap provided some good minutes in their respective roles. But in the second half, it was the spark of energy from PJ Dozier that got the Nuggets back into the game and helped them take the lead.

The Lakers have to be feeling good going into Game 3, as they were nearly unstoppable for most of the last game. Their problem has to be not taking the foot off the gas and continuing to increase their lead. They seemed not to have a problem with that in the first game, leading by over 20 points on their way to a blowout victory. It seemed like that was going to be the case too for Game 2, but then the Lakers struggled to make shots and kept committing turnovers. In that time, the Nuggets found a way back into the game.

Alex Caruso would have been the star of the game if Davis had not hit the game-winner. He was providing the “Caru-show” for the Lake Show faithful, with highlight-worthy dunks. Rajon Rondo is continuing to show why he is vital to the team’s success. He is the one who is responsible for the assist to Davis‘ game-winner. Dwight Howard is proving to everyone that he deserved his money after the Lakers decided to keep him on the roster. Like I said several months ago, the DeMarcus Cousins signing and injury, which led to the Howard signing, turned out to be a blessing. One way or another, I knew he would contribute eventually on the team’s road to the championship.

Game 3 will be interesting to see. Will Denver give more minutes to Dozier after his intensity was vital? Will Los Angeles give more minutes to Caruso after he put on a clinic out there for the fans?

 

The Lakers tip-off against Nuggets in Game 3 at 6 pm PT. You can watch the game on TNT and Spectrum SportsNet.

 

Western Conference Finals schedule (All times PT)

  • Game 1Lakers 126 – Nuggets 114
  • Game 2Lakers 105 – Nuggets 103
  • Game 3—Tonight, 6 p.m.—TNT
  • Game 4—Thursday, September 24, 6 p.m.—TNT
  • Game 5*—Saturday, September 26, 6 p.m.—TNT
  • Game 6*—Monday, September 28, TBD—TNT
  • Game 7*—Wednesday, September 30, TBD—TNT

*If required

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-Isaiah Torres – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter- Isaiah_Torres24

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