Davis, Lak­ers beat Nuggets

Scores 34 points as Los Angeles moves to brink of NBA Finals.

The Times-Tribune - - SPORTS -

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Los Angeles Lak­ers are a vic­tory away from re­turn­ing to the NBA Finals — and only an­other come­back from 3-1 down by the Den­ver Nuggets can stop them.

An­thony Davis scored 34 points, Lebron James had 26 and the Lak­ers beat the Nuggets, 114-108, on Thurs­day night in Game 4 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence finals.

Davis got the Lak­ers off to a fast start with his scor­ing and James helped them fin­ish it with his de­fense, forc­ing Ja­mal Mur­ray into some late misses af­ter the guard had kept the Nuggets in it with an ar­ray of high­d­if­fi­culty bas­kets.

James added nine re­bounds and eight as­sists, and the Lak­ers had 12 of­fen­sive re­bounds for a whop­ping 25-6 ad­van­tage in sec­ond-chance points.

Game 5 is Satur­day, when the Lak­ers can reach the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade.

The Nuggets will be fac­ing elim­i­na­tion for the sev­enth time in the bub­ble. They were down 3-1 against Utah in the first round and climbed out of the same hole against the Los Angeles Clip­pers in the West semi­fi­nals.

But they couldn’t come back in this game, get­ting within one point in the open­ing minute of the fourth quar­ter but con­stantly turned back from there by a key stop or re­bound by the Lak­ers.

The Lak­ers have 16 cham­pi­onships, one be­hind Bos­ton for the most in NBA his­tory, but they haven’t played for one since win­ning their most re­cent ti­tle in 2010.

The Lak­ers started Dwight Howard at cen­ter and he had 12 points and 11 re­bounds, help­ing put Nikola Jo­kic into foul trou­ble.

Mur­ray had 32 points and eight as­sists, but Jo­kic fin­ished with just 16 points and seven re­bounds.

Davis scored 27 points in Game 3 but the 6-foot-10 for­ward ac­knowl­edged that his two-re­bound per­for­mance was “un­ac­cept­able.” He came out much more ag­gres­sively Thurs­day af­ter the Lak­ers played from be­hind much of the last game.

With an ar­ray of short jumpers, Davis made his first six shots be­fore any­one else on the Lak­ers made a bas­ket. Then Howard scored on con­sec­u­tive fol­low shots be­fore James fol­lowed with his first two field goals.

Mur­ray kept the Lak­ers from get­ting too far away with a 7-for-8 start. He fol­lowed his ac­ro­batic layup around James with 2 ½ min­utes re­main­ing in the half with a pair of free throws that cut it to four, be­fore the Lak­ers took a 60-55 edge to the locker room.

The Nuggets shot 59% in the first half but the Lak­ers had an 18-2 ad­van­tage in sec­ond-chance points.

The Lak­ers seemed to be tak­ing con­trol when Ra­jon Rondo and Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-pope com­bined for a flurry that pushed the lead to 11 with un­der 4 min­utes re­main­ing in the third, but Michael Porter Jr. hit two 3-point­ers late in the pe­riod that cut it to 87-84 go­ing to the fourth.

MARK J. TERRILL / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Den­ver Nuggets’ Ja­mal Mur­ray (27) drives against Los Angeles Lak­ers’ Lebron James and scores dur­ing Game 4 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence finals Thurs­day in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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