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Recap: Lakers vs Nuggets – Western Conference Finals – Game 4

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Los Angeles Lakers (11-3)  |  Denver Nuggets (8-9)

 

The Lakers finished the first half of this game with a 60-55 lead.  

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: LeBron Wire USA – Today

A surprising change occurred before the game even started. The Lakers decided to start Dwight Howard over JaVale McGee. Typically, McGee starts, but Howard plays more minutes. Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel said he had him come off the bench because of foul trouble. He didn’t mention the exact reason Howard started, but it’s easy to assume it was to keep up with the Nugget’s early offense. Howard scores more than McGee and plays with more aggression.

The first quarter started off with back and forth scoring. The Nuggets utilized more team basketball, but most of their points came from Jamal Murray and Jerami Grant early on. As for the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored their first 10 points. Another Lakers player did not score a point until Dwight Howard scored off a putback from an offensive rebound. Davis finished the first quarter going 6 for six from the floor with 14 points. 

 

The second quarter was just as fast-paced as the first. There was only a total of 7 shooting fouls committed in the half, so the fast pace action did not stop often.

 

Every time the Nuggets tried to lower the Lakers’ lead significantly, the Lakers fired back. Starting Howard proved to be an excellent decision for the Lakers. He finished the half with 11 points and ten rebounds. Six of his rebounds were offensive rebounds, so he played aggressively on both ends of the court. 

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: Flipboard

LeBron James heated up in the second quarter and scored 14 points, shooting 5 for 11 from the floor with five assists. The player of the half had to be Davis, though. Even though he slowed down a bit in the second quarter, he still scored 19 points while shooting 70 percent from the floor. 

The Nuggets were not close until the end of the first half. The Lakers missed 10 of their last 12 shots. The Nuggets severely outshot the Lakers efficiency-wise, making it surprising that they still had a lead after the half. The Lakers shot 46.9 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from three. The Nuggets shot 59 percent from the floor and 31.2 percent from three.

The difference-maker was that the Lakers had 18 second-chance points while the Nuggets had 2. Starting Dwight Howard was largely responsible for those second-chance points. The Nuggets utilized more team basketball, but most of their points came from Jamal Murray in Jerami Grant early on. As for the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored their first 10 points. Another Lakers’ player did not score a point until Dwight Howard scored off a putback from an offensive rebound. Davis finished the first quarter going 6 for six from the floor with 14 points.

 

The Lakers ended up winning the game 114-108.

 

Lakers vs Nuggets
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

The Nuggets kept up their efficient scoring during the third quarter. Their team shooting percentage from the floor was at 57 while the Lakers were at 47.8. The Nuggets were close to taking the lead, but all those second-chance points the Lakers had still helped them hold a 3-point lead at the end of the third.  

The fourth quarter went the same way as the Lakers held on to their lead. No matter how efficient the Nuggets were at scoring, they could not take the lead. Jokic had a relatively quiet game for his standards, putting up 16 points and four assists. Murray started taking over more and some beautiful circus layups with a defender in his face. He finished with 32 points shooting 12 for 20 from the floor. Regardless of that, the Lakers kept firing back. 

The primary reasons the Lakers took this victory were because of their second-chance points and turnovers. The Nuggets had nine turnovers while the Lakers only had 7. The Lakers had a total of 11 offensive rebounds, which made up for their team shooting percentage being lower than the Nuggets. The Lakers also utilized many different lineups that matched well against the Nuggets

LeBron James picked it up even more in the second half. He finished the game with 26 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Late in the fourth quarter, he stopped Murray from scoring for two possessions in a row, which allowed the Lakers to run away with a more considerable lead.

 

The Lakers recovered well from their poor shooting first half and were able to keep getting offensive rebounds to take a 3-1 series lead. The question is now: Can they close out the Nuggets in Game 5?

 

 

Western Conference Finals schedule (All times PT)

  • Game 1Lakers 126 – Nuggets 114
  • Game 2Lakers 105 – Nuggets 103
  • Game 3Nuggets 114 –Lakers 104
  • Game 4Lakers 114 – Nuggets 108
  • 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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-Kyle Randolph – Franchise Sports Media

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Lakers vs Nuggets Game 4