Recap: Lakers defeat Nuggets to advance to the NBA Finals

The Lakers celebrate after winning Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade with their win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade on Saturday with their 117-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers will play the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. The Heat lead the series, 3-2, heading into Sunday’s Game 6.

What they’re saying about the Lakers, LeBron James advancing to NBA Finals

The Lakers are, by their own admission, not done yet after winning the Western Conference championship, but the team is still celebrating their five-game series victory over the Nuggets on Thursday night.

Here’s a peak of a locker room celebration:

LeBron James dazzled in the clinching win with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. After missing the playoffs in his first year with the Lakers, James is back in familiar territory.


‘Job’s not done’ for Lakers after Western Conference championship

Anthony Davis, left, and his Lakers teammates check out the Western Conference championship on Sept. 26, 2020.
Anthony Davis, left, and his Lakers teammates check out the Western Conference championship on Saturday night.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

They stood around a trophy in a gym with no fans and confetti on the court, but the Lakers aren’t ready to celebrate yet.

After the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, coach Frank Vogel said on the TNT broadcast during the brief trophy ceremony that “the job’s not done.”

The Lakers will play the Celtics or the Heat in the NBA Finals, which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday if there is no Game 7, or Friday if the Eastern Conference finals goes the distance.

LeBron James advanced to his ninth NBA Finals in the last 10 years.

“We’re going to enjoy it tonight, as we should, because this is not promised every year,” LeBron James said on the TNT broadcast. “We’re gong to enjoy it tonight, but we understand that we got bigger fish to fry.”


LeBron James stars as Lakers advance to NBA Finals for first time since 2010

LeBron James said no.

With the Nuggets hoping to pull off another miraculous comeback, James led the Lakers to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010 with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 rebounds in a 117-107 Game 5 win Thursday night in Orlando, Fla.

The Lakers won the series 4-1, their third consecutive five-game playoff series victory.

James scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, fighting off the competitive Nuggets, who erased a 16-point deficit to tie the game in the third quarter.

Anthony Davis had 27 points and five rebounds the Lakers, including a big three-pointer that put the team up by 10 late in the fourth quarter.

Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant led the Nuggets with 20 points each, while Jamal Murray, playing through a knee injury, scored 19 points with eight assists.


LeBron James. That’s it. That’s the headline.

LeBron James won’t be denied .

The Lakers star has scored seven straight points for the Lakers from everywhere on the court, driving to the lane or pulling up from a three-pointer. The Lakers are up 115-103 with 1:48 to go.


LeBron notches another triple-double as Lakers trying to close out Game 5

Lakers forward LeBron James makes a pass after driving into the lane against Nuggets forward Torrey Craig during Game 5.
Lakers forward LeBron James makes a pass after driving into the lane against Nuggets forward Torrey Craig during the second half of Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

LeBron James has 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakrs lead 108-99 with 3:40 to go.

He has 27 playoff triple-doubles, trailing only Magic Johnson.


Anthony Davis’ ankle is OK

Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) moves the ball against Nuggets forward Paul Millsap during the second half of Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Just seconds after Anthony Davis seemed to tweak his ankle, the Lakers star didn’t hesitate to sink a critical three-pointer that put the Lakers ahead 102-92 with 6:11 to go.

Davis, who was questionable for this game because of a sprained left ankle, seemed to get tied up in a scramble for a defensive rebound. He hopped away from the court before tightening his shoe laces, but wasn’t slowed when Alex Caruso set him up for a three-pointer from the top of the arc.

Davis has 25 points as the Lakers are on an 18-8 run and inching toward the NBA Finals.


Lakers clinging to four-point lead

LeBron James is still one assist away from a triple-double as the Lakers have a 95-91 lead with 7:49 to go. The Nuggets have had several open three-pointers that would have been big momentum shifts for a team on the brink of elimination, but the shots rimmed out.

James leads all scorers with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He has attempted just three three-pointers, opting instead to attack the paint.


Nuggets aren’t done yet as Lakers lead dwindles going into fourth quarter

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray battles with the Lakers' LeBron James (23) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) during Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

This shouldn’t be a surprise anymore.

The Nuggets again erased a 16-point lead, coming back to momentarily tie the score in the third quarter before Anthony Davis made a three-pointer with one second remaining to put the Lakers ahead 87-84 going into the fourth.

Jamal Murray, playing through a right knee injury, has a gutsy 13 points and seven assists, including two free throws with 11 seconds to go in the third quarter that tied it. The guard is struggling to move on the court, but continues to orchestrate the Nuggets offense, although he can’t push the ball in transition.

With Murray hobbled, Jerami Grant is carrying the Nuggets with 18 points and seven rebounds.

LeBron James is one assist from another triple-double with 22 points, 11 points and nine assists. Anthony Davis has 20 points and two rebounds.


Will Dwight Howard’s flagrant foul on Paul Millsap spark a Nuggets run?

Nuggets forward Paul Millsap was at the center of a chippy exchange with the Clippers’ Marcus Morris that flipped Game 5 of that conference semifinal series. We know how that series ended up.

In Game 5 against the Lakers, Millsap again got tangled in an exchange, this time challenging Dwight Howard after the Lakers center put an extra emphasis on a box out, knocking Millsap to the ground.

Howard as given a flagrant one for the play, which occurerd with the Nuggets down 80-69 with 4:29 to go in the third.

Now with 1:01 left in the quarter, the Nuggets are down 82-80.


Back-to-back threes from Jerami Grant force Lakers timeout

Lakers forward LeBron James sets up a play during the second half of Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Just when it looks like the Lakers are ready to pull away, the Nuggets come back to life. What else is new?

Back-to-back three-pointers from Jerami Grant cut the Lakers advantage to 10, points as they lead 76-66 with 5:46 to go in the third.

Grant has 12 points and five rebounds as the Nuggets are on a 10-4 run.

The Lakers continue to push the pace against the weary Nuggets, running even on made baskets. After Jamal Murray laid off a pass for a Nikola Jokic dunk, LeBron James fired a full-court pass to Anthony DAvis as the Nuggets slowly ran back on defense.


Lakers stay aggressive to start second half

Lakers center Dwight Howard pulls down a rebound next to Nuggets guard Gary Harris during Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers aren’t taking any risks against the Nuggets, a noted comeback team, early in the second half, pushing their lead to 70-56 with 8:57 to go in the third quarter.

LeBron James has 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as he closes in on another triple-double. Jamal Murray, slowed by a knee injury, is hobbling on the court as he tries to keep his team from elimination.


TNT reports Jamal Murray battling right knee contusion

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray drives against Lakers forward Anthony Davis during Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Jamal Murray will try to carry the Nuggets to another comeback, but this time on an injured knee.

TNT reported at halftime that Murray is struggling with a right knee contusion as the star guard tried to work through the injury with heating pads and stretches.

Murray had eight points and four assists in the first half as the Nuggets trailed by 10.


LeBron powers Lakers to halftime lead

Lakers forward LeBron James looks to pass while defended by Nuggets forward Jerami Grant during Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

LeBron James willed the Lakers to a 61-51 lead going into the locker room with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the first half. He scored 14 of his points in the second quarter, when the Lakers led by as many as 11.

With James orchestrating the offense and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in foul trouble, the Lakers are dominating down low with 38 points in the paint.

Anthony Davis also faced foul problems as he finished the half on the bench with three fouls. He has nine points, two assists and two steals, but continues to struggle on the glass with zero rebounds. He has not reached double-digit rebounds since Game 1 of this series.

Jokic was limited to just eight minutes with nine points, one rebound and one assist. Jamal Murray shook off a frigid start to finish with eight points and three assists in the first half.


LeBron leads the layup line as Lakers extend lead

Make way for The King.

LeBron James is attacking the basket in the second quarter as the Lakers have pulled ahead 51-42 with 4:34 to go in the second quarter. He has 12 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

The Lakers pushed ahead with an 11-2 run, spurred by James. He scored eight of the 11 points, each time driving aggressively to the basket. He assisted on the final three Lakers points, a long-range shot from Markieff Morris.

The Lakers have 34 points in the paint compared to 22 for the Nuggets.

Alex Caruso has 11 points in 11 minutes off the bench. He has yet to miss a shot in five attempts.


Alex Caruso shows up on both ends of the court as LeBron takes control

Lakers forward LeBron James takes a charge against Nuggets guard Gary Harris during Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Not only did Alex Caruso lead the Lakers in scoring with eight points on four-of-four shooting, but the guard also drew a critical offensive foul on Nikola Jokic early in the second quarter. It was Jokic’s third foul, which sent the center to the bench.

With Jokic out, LeBron James had room to shine. He drove to the basket on back-to-back possessions after Jokic’s departure, putting the Lakers ahead 39-36 with 8:49 to go in the second quarter.

James has scored all six of the Lakers’ points to start the second quarter.


Lakers inch ahead after first quarter

LeBron James dished his third assist to Alex Caruso in the final seconds of the first quarter to help the Lakers take a 33-30 lead.

James has two points, three assists and three points in the first quarter, while Caruso leads the Lakers with eight points on four-of-four shooting off the bench.

The Nuggets need more big performances from their bench players as stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic had quiet starts.

Jokic played just six minutes in the first quarter due to two fouls, but picked up five points. Murray is scoreless from the field after one, with his two points coming from the free-throw line. Rookie Michael Porter Jr. is trying to lift Denver with seven points and two rebounds off the bench.


Michael Porter Jr. gets creativity points for self-assist

In less than two minutes, Michael Porter Jr. already has seven points for the Nuggets, who lead 23-21 with 2:50 to go in the first quarter. His pass to himself off the backboard and subsequent layup broke a 21-21 tie.

The rookie is providing a lift for the Nuggets, who are without their star big man Nikola Jokic, who tallied two fouls in six minutes and went to the bench early.


Denver goes on early run

After three early turnovers, the Nuggets settled down and are on a 7-1 run to force a Lakers timeout with Denver leading 12-7 at the 6:54 mark in the first quarter.

Nikola Jokic, who has struggled with foul trouble this series, picked up one early foul, but has five points, one assist and one steal for the Nuggets. Gary Harris made a three-pointer that led to the Lakers timeout.


Dwight Howard stays in starting lineup

Lakers center Dwight Howard battles for the tip against Denver's Nikola Jokic to start Game 5.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

And we’re off for Game 5.

Dwight Howard started in place of JaVale McGee again in Game 5 for the Lakers.

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake: The Lakers are trying to advance to their first NBA Finals since winning the championship in 2010. The Nuggets are trying to win their seventh straight elimination game in the bubble, hoping to claw back from yet another 3-1 deficit.

The Lakers are 2-0 in close-out games this postseason.


All eyes on LeBron as tip-off nears

LeBron James is “probable” with a sore right groin, but that’s not what’s slowing down the Lakers star in Dan Woike’s courtside video. I apologize for Dan’s pun.


Lakers arrive for Game 5 warmups

Dan Woike gives the courtside view of the Lakers’ arrival for warm-ups before Game 5 while Brad Turner checks in with the birds’ eye angel.


Look for a big night from LeBron (if the Lakers close out series)


Will Jamal Murray play more than 40 minutes tonight?


Uh, oh: Charles Barkley says Lakers will win Game 5, guaranteed!


Lakers treating Game 5 against the Nuggets ‘like a Game 7’

When the time came for the Lakers to finish off an opponent in the Western Conference playoffs, they wasted little time in disposing of the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets.

That time has arrived again for the Lakers.

They have a 3-1 lead over Denver and the Lakers can end the Nuggets’ season with a win in Game 5 on Saturday night at AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Lakers are 2-0 in close-out games in the playoffs, having beaten the Trail Blazers and Rockets 4-1 after dropping the series opener.



The Nuggets need another miracle; they’re ready for Game 5 vs. Lakers

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is defended by Lakers forward LeBron James late in Game 4.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Becoming the first NBA team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit twice in one postseason gave the Denver Nuggets a sense of fearlessness. Their resilience also gave their coach, Michael Malone, a sense of humor.

Asked before the Western Conference finals against the Lakers how he’d get his team into another 3-1 hole in order to inspire players to be at their best, Malone responded with a quick quip. “Well, we actually did petition the league to see if we could just get right to it and start 3-1 down, save everybody a lot of time, catch up to the Eastern Conference, but that was shot down,” he joked.

Be careful what you wish for. Malone and the Nuggets weren’t laughing on Thursday, after their 114-108 loss to the Lakers put them down 3-1 and on the brink of elimination again.



Celtics’ elimination-game tenacity reminds Lakers what they’re facing in Game 5

Boston's Jayson Tatum controls the ball against the Heat.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum controls the ball during the Celtics’ win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

As the Boston Celtics ran on the court for what was possibly their final game until who knows when, their section of family members supporting them from inside the bubble gathered for a photo.

Forty-eight minutes would decide whether their trip would be extended, whether they’d be able to visit the pool one more time, or in this case, whether they’d be able to pose for one final memento.

And for most of Friday’s first half, it seemed like the Celtics were of the mind-set that packing up and heading home might not be so bad.

It felt assured that the Lakers would be playing the Miami Heat next week in the NBA Finals. But elimination games are always tough, and inside the bubble, they’ve been almost impossible.



Coach Vogel says Anthony Davis is ‘good to go’

Times reporters Broderick Turner and Dan Woike are reporting from Orlando, Fla., tonight. And Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that Anthony Davis will play tonight despite a sore ankle.


Lakers fly into the Nuggets’ danger zone: Five takeaways from Game 4

Lakers forward LeBron James runs on the court against the Denver Nuggets during Game 4.
Lakers star LeBron James follows a play on the court during a 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers took a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets, which prompted nearly everybody with a Twitter account to make this joke: The Nuggets have ‘em right where they want ‘em!

That, of course, is a reference to the fact that Denver has come back from 3-1 deficits in both of its playoff series. The Lakers, though, have shown a killer instinct in their closeout games.

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 114-108 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.



Lakers’ NBA title hopes all about Anthony Davis, not an aging LeBron

Nuggets power forward Mason Plumlee, left, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis battle for a rebound.
Nuggets power forward Mason Plumlee, left, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis battle for a rebound during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The secret is out, as thrilling as a buzzer swish, as aggravating as a lost ball.

The truth is finally upon us, as delightful as a giant who can play defense, as sobering as a giant who can just as easily disappear.

You know who’s the most important Laker? You know who’s the one Laker who must prove he can play at a consistently high level for them to win a championship?

You guessed wrong. It’s Anthony Davis.

It’s the guy who hits the “Mamba Shot” one night, and completely recoils the next. It’s the guy who is energized one quarter, and evaporates the next.