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Recap: Lakers defeat Nuggets in Game 4 to take 3-1 series lead

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Lakers forward Anthony Davis, left, tries to shoot over Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis, left, tries to shoot over Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap during the first half of Game 4 on Thursday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers moved to the verge of advancing to the NBA Finals with a 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday.

The Lakers moved to the verge of advancing to the NBA Finals with a 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday.

The Lakers lead the series, 3-1, heading into Saturday’s Game 5.

Lakers take Game 4 win, 3-1 series lead over Nuggets

Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope throws down a dunk late in Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Final: Lakers 114, Nuggets 108

If the Nuggets are going to the NBA Finals, they’ll have to overcome another 3-1 series deficit.

The Lakers improve to 11-3 in these playoffs and are one win away from their first Finals appearance since 2010.

The story of the game: Offensive rebounding and free throws.

The Lakers had a 12-6 edge in the former — and a 41-33 advantage on the glass overall — and converted 28 of their 35 foul shots, making more than the Nuggets attempted, 20 of 23.

Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting while making 13 of 14 from the foul line. He also added five key rebounds all in the second half, three assists and three steals.

LeBron James collected 26 points, (including 11 from the foul line, nine rebounds and eight assists. Dwight Howard, making his third start of the season, had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 13 points, while Rajon Rondo (11 points) and Kyle Kuzma (10 points) both reached double-digits off the bench.

After Jamal Murray’s 32-point outburst, the Nuggets next-highest scorer, Jerami Grant, only had 17 points. Nikola Jokic scored 16 on just six-of-13 shooting. And as a team, the Nuggets missed their final five shots and scored only six points in the final three minutes.

Game 5 will be on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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Lakers trying to seal the victory, hold four-point lead

Lakers forwards Anthony Davis (3) and LeBron James talks strategy during a break in play in Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Down by five, the Nuggets’ defense came up with a defensive stop, but again couldn’t clean up the glass. Instead, Rajon Rondo comes away with an offensive rebound and draws a foul. He hits one of two and it’s 112-106 with 31.9 seconds remaining. Timeout Nuggets.

Offensive rebounds tonight: Lakers 12, Nuggets 5.

Coming out of the timeout, Paul Millsap scoops up a Nikola Jokic air ball and draws a foul. His two made free throws make it 112-108 with 23.2 seconds left. Lakers call timeout now.

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Lakers lead by five points in final minute

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray drives against Lakers forward LeBron James during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers’ offensive rebounding comes up big again.

After LeBron James misses a mid-range jumper, Anthony Davis tips an offensive rebound out to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The ball eventually goes back to James, who draws a foul against Jerami Grant.

Nuggets call timeout, trailing 109-104 with 59 seconds to play.

Moments earlier, Markieff Morris fouled out after committing offensive and defensive infractions on consecutive possessions. The latter put Jamal Murray on the line, where he made both.

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Lakers lead by seven points with less than two minutes left

LeBron James blocks a layup by Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Rajon Rondo makes a mid-range jumper and then James draws a foul against Denver’s Jerami Grant. He makes both free throws to stretch the Lakers’ lead to 109-102 with less than two minutes to play.

The Nuggets had closed their deficit to 105-102 when Monte Morris scores with an and-1 finish. With the free throw, the Nuggets make it a one-possession game again.

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Nikola Jokic returns as Lakers try to hold off Nuggets

Right after Nuggets center Nikola Jokic checks back into the game, guard Jamal Murray runs into LeBron James on a drive and comes up limping.

The Lakers challenged what was originally ruled a foul against James, but the call stood. Murray also stays in the game.

The Lakers lead 103-99 with 4:19 to play.

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Lakers cling to lead entering final minutes of Game 4

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray drives to the basket against Lakers guard Danny Green and forward LeBron James during Game 4
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray drives to the basket against Lakers guard Danny Green and forward LeBron James during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After walking and jogging around the court, Anthony Davis remains in the game and makes one of two free throws (the officials did review the foul that happened on Davis’ ankle roll, but deemed it a common foul).

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic remains on the bench with those five fouls, but Jamal Murray is keeping the Nuggets close. He has 28 points, bettered only by Davis’ 32.

The Lakers lead 99-96 with 5:45 to play.

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Anthony Davis gets banged up, but bounces back

Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives to the basket against Nuggets forward Paul Millsap during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Two scary scenes for the Lakers.

After Anthony Davis was favoring his shoulder after setting a hard screen, he rolls his ankle while landing on a jump shot. Trainers are looking at him as he readjusts his left shoe.

The Lakers lead 96-92 with 6:44 left in regulation.

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Lakers lead by eight points; Nikola Jokic has five fouls

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray looks to score against Lakers guard Rajon Rondo during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Two great plays at both ends of the court.

First, Jamal Murray dribbles around Danny Green to drop in a floater. Then Anthony Davis puts the ball on the court, drives to the hoop and finishes while drawing a foul. Crucially, it was Nikola Jokic’s fifth foul and put the Nuggets in the penalty.

Davis makes the and-1 free throw to give the Lakers a 96-88 lead with under eight to play.

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Lakers fend off another Nuggets rally, lead by seven points

Lakers guard Alex Caruso elevates to make a pass over Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After the Nuggets got to within one point, the Lakers answered with six straight points, including a couple of key free throws from LeBron James, following a Markieff Morris steal, and a couple more foul shots from Anthony Davis.

With the Lakers leading 93-86, Nikola Jokic checks back in for the Nuggets with about nine minutes left to play.

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Nuggets rally, but Lakers lead 87-84 after three quarters

Lakers forward LeBron James reacts to a foul call during Game 4 against the Nuggets.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Another Nuggets mini-run makes the score close again.

Nikola Jokic sank two free throws and made a layup. A Rondo layup was answered by four more straight Nuggets points. Jerami Grant drew a foul and made a couple at the line. And Micheal Porter Jr. buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the quarter.

It adds up to a 13-5 Denver run that cuts the Lakers lead to 87-84 going into the fourth quarter. Still feels like anyone’s game with 12 minutes to go.

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Rajon Rondo helps Lakers increase lead to double digits

Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, right, passes over Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Rajon Rondo propels the Lakers to an 82-71 lead. The point guard makes a three-pointer, assists on a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope layup and then connects on a short jumper.

Nuggets call timeout with 3:35 left in the third quarter, facing their second-largest deficit of the night.

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Lakers lead 75-68 midway through the third quarter

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma scores against the Nuggets during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

LeBron James missed a free throw but gathered his own rebound for a put-back basket.

That’s been the Lakers’ biggest edge all night: Offensive rebounds and second-chance points. They lead both categories, 9-2 and 20-2, respectively.

The Lakers lead 75-68 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

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Nuggets trim Lakers’ lead to five points

Lakers forward LeBron James draws a crowd of Nuggets defenders during a drive in Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Another Lakers’ double-digit lead doesn’t last for long.

A Torrey Craig three-pointer and Jamal Murray layup on back-to-back possession get the Nuggets back within five, 70-65. Lakers coach Frank Vogel uses a timeout.

The Lakers just can’t pull away. Nuggets still shooting well above 50% (27 of 46) from the field.

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Lakers fend off Nuggets rally to open 10-point lead

Lakers center Dwight Howard grabs a rebound against Nuggets forward Torrey Craig during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After a Jerami Grant three-pointer made it a two-point game, the Lakers bounced back with three three-pointers from Anthony Davis, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Then, Dwight Howard draws a foul and adds another point from the line. It’s a 10-2 Lakers run to make it 70-60 L.A. in the third quarter.

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Lakers leads the Nuggets at halftime 60-55

Lakers forward LeBron James draws a blocking foul against Nuggets forward Jerami Grant during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

After trailing by as many as 12 points, the Nuggets score eight of the final 11 points of the first half to trim the Lakers’ lead to 60-55.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis leads all scorers with 19 points. LeBron James has 14 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Dwight Howard, in his first start of the postseason, has a first-half double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Kyle Kuzma has 10 points, including two three-pointers.

Jamal Murray’s 16 points lead the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each have 10 points.

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Jamal Murray sparks Nuggets rally

Jamal Murray gives the Nuggets a much-needed spark. After a crazy reverse layup around LeBron James, Murray sinks a couple free throws on the next possession to trim the Lakers’ lead to 57-53.

L.A. has missed eight of its last nine shots with barely a minute left in the first half.

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Lakers maintain 10-point lead late in second quarter

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma gets into the lane for a floater against the Nuggets during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Anthony Davis has yet to miss a shot (seven for seven) and drew a foul against Mason Plumlee on a three-point attempt. After making all three foul shots, Davis now has 19 points to go along with three steals.

the Lakers lead 55-45 with under five minutes to play in the half.

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Nuggets trim Lakers’ lead to seven points

Lakers forward Anthony Davis challenges a shot by Nuggets guard Jamal Murray during Game 4.
Denver Nuggets forward Tyler Cook, right, shoots over Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first half of Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Nuggets emerge from a timeout with a 7-3 run to cut their deficit to 47-40 with 7:29 to go until halftime.

Michael Porter Jr. scored five of the Nuggets’ points in the burst, including to a three-pointer that prompted Lakers coach Frank Vogel to call a timeout.

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Lakers open double-digit lead early in second quarter

Lakers forward LeBron James looks to score against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Alex Caruso makes a corner three to give the Lakers a game-high 10-point lead, 42-32, early in the second quarter.

The Lakers haven’t been great from beyond the arc so far (three for 11, 27.3%) but Denver has been even worse, making only two of 10 from downtown. A stat to watch tonight.

The Lakers make it 44-32.

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Lakers lead the Nuggets 37-30 after first quarter

Lakers forward LeBron James looks to pass against the defense of Nuggets forward Torrey Craig during Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Jamal Murray’s hot hand (six-of-seven shooting, 12 points) and Jerami Grant’s early offense (six points) have kept the Nuggets close despite Nikola Jokic only scoring two points on one field-goal attempt

LeBron James limped a little after taking a knee to the thigh but stayed in the game and made one of two free throws before throwing down a transition dunk on the next possession. At the end of the first quarter, the Lakers lead 37-30.

Anthony Davis has 14 points, James has 10 and the Lakers own a key 12-5 rebounding edge, including five offensive rebounds to Denver’s one.

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Dwight Howard a force as Lakers lead 29-23 late in the first quarter

Anthony Davis has 14 of the Lakers' 29 points through the opening 9 minutes of Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Dwight Howard is making an early impact for the Lakers. He’s already got eight rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, and eight points.

It’s helped the Lakers maintain a 29-23 lead over the Nuggets, who are off to a blistering 10-for-14 start shooting from the field.

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AD leads Lakers to early 16-12 lead over Nuggets

Anthony Davis has made his first six shots, LeBron James has a couple free throws and Dwight Howard just threw down his first dunk.

It’s added up to an early 16-12 lead for the Lakers, who have also shown some of the zone defense that helped them make a comeback in Game 3.

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Anthony Davis and Jamal Murray in a shootout to start

Anthony Davis with early offensive success with Paul Millsap guarding him. Davis with two buckets and has forced Millsap into a couple fouls, forcing the Nuggets forward out of the game within the first three minutes.

Davis then hits another pair of jumpers after Millsap’s exit, giving the Lakers an 10-9 lead. He has all of L.A.'s points.

Jamal Murray, meanwhile has knocked down three shots for six points.

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Game 4 is underway; Dwight Howard gets the start for Lakers

Dwight Howard came off the bench in Game 3 for the Lakers. Coach Frank Vogel started him for Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

We’re underway …

A pivotal Game 4 will begin with a new-look Lakers starting lineup. For the first time this series and only the third time all season, Dwight Howard starts for the L.A. after the team’s Game 3 loss to the Nuggets.

The Lakers’ starting five: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard

Denver’s remains the same: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic

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Something lacking in the finish, but good camera work

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LeBron sporting some “Reflections”

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Lakers take the court for their final warmups before tipoff

Now that we’re down to the conference finals, with the East and West alternating dates, these evening games are tipping off not long after the top of the hour. Much better than wondering when the second game of a doubleheader would start — 6:15, 6:20, 6:25. . . .

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Lakers again favored over the Nuggets

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Lakers will start Dwight Howard in Game 4

Lakers center Dwight Howard forces Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to lose control of the ball during Game 3.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Lakers coach Frank Vogel has decided to start Dwight Howard in Game 4 tonight.

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Lakers present case to NBA regarding LeBron James’ lack of free throws

LeBron James and Alex Caruso defend as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray attempts to pass.
LeBron James and Alex Caruso defend as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray attempts to pass the ball during the second half Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers have presented a case to the NBA that their star, LeBron James, is not nearly getting his fair share of free throws even though they are positive the hard-charging forward is getting fouled plenty by the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference finals playoff series.

James shot just two free throws during the Game 3 defeat to the Nuggets on Tuesday night at AdventHealth Arena. And those two free throws came after Denver guard Jamal Murray was called for a flagrant foul for an elbow to James’ jaw.

He has shot 10 free throws total in the three games of the best-of-seven series that resumes Thursday night with Game 4 and the Lakers leading 2-1.

“We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” coach Frank Vogel told the media via videoconference Wednesday after practice. “I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

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LeBron James arrival

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Denver coach Michael Malone on Jamal Murray’s leap to greatness

The Times’ Dan Woike is also in Orlando, Fla., with what’s called ‘bubble access,’ and attended the videoconference of Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone.

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Lakers go from memorable shot to miserable flop in Game 3 loss to Nuggets

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis battle for a loose ball.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis battle for a loose ball during the first half of the Lakers’ 114-106 loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Two days after one of the greatest moments in team history, you’ll never guess what the Lakers did for an encore.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

They went from The Mamba Shot to The Miserable Flop. They went from wholly inspired to mostly insipid. They went from the Lakers to … the Clippers?

We honestly didn’t know they had it in them, but for three quarters Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers stumbled around the court like their hallway neighbors from last week, falling behind by 20, rarely active, barely there.

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The big men getting ready for Game 4 tonight

Which big man, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis or the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, will score more three-pointers tonight?

The Times’ Broderick Turner as at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Fla., watching them warm up for Game 4 tonight.

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LeBron James on speaking out against police brutality: I never condone violence

Lakers forward LeBron James watches play against the Denver Nuggets from the bench.
Lakers forward LeBron James watches play against the Denver Nuggets from the bench during the second half on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Throughout the summer LeBron James has used his social media and interview sessions in the NBA bubble to discuss issues of racism and police brutality, calling for justice in cases where Black people have been killed or seriously injured by police, and sharing thoughts about what he sees as a broken relationship between police and the Black community.

When two sheriff’s deputies were shot in Compton, pundits and politicians, either implicitly or explicitly, pointed the finger at James and others who have spoken out about police brutality.

On Tuesday night, James was asked about that implication.

“I’ve never in my 35 years ever condoned violence,” James said. “Never have. But I also know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and I grew up in the inner city in a Black community in what we call the hood or the ghetto, however you want to picture it. And I’ve seen a lot of counts first hand of a lot of Black people being racially profiled because of our color. And I’ve seen it throughout my whole life.”

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We have a series: Five takeaways from Lakers’ Game 3 loss

Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray has the ball stripped away by Lakers guard Rajon Rondo.
Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray has the ball stripped away by Lakers guard Rajon Rondo during the second half on Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Denver Nuggets were one missed last-second shot by the Lakers’ Anthony Davis from evening the Western Conference finals series on Sunday night.

The Nuggets finally got their first win over the Lakers, 114-106, in Game 3 on Tuesday at AdventHealth Arena. Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. Let’s give Denver its due. The Nuggets’ place in the conference finals was overshadowed by the Clippers’ collapse in the final three games of its series. The autopsy of a favorite had to come first before celebration of a team coming of age could begin.

The time for the Nuggets’ party is now.

This is a team that deserves its place in the conference finals, a group that’s an Anthony Davis “Mamba Shot” away from a 2-1 lead over the Lakers.

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