Anthony Davis stands tall under pressure for Lakers
Anthony Davis wanted the ball. He wanted the pressure, he wanted the moment and he wanted to show that he could handle it.
So he looked at Lakers teammate Rajon Rondo, who was inbounding the ball with 2.1 seconds left in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night.
With Nuggets center Nikola Jokic jumping toward him, Davis launched a three-pointer, sank it and won the game.
Despite a comeback effort by the Nuggets, the Lakers took Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, 105-103, for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Each time Denver took a lead, their situation seemed tenuous. The Lakers had too many weapons and their defense was too stifling for the Nuggets to take a comfortable lead.
Which led to Davis’ last-second heroics.
Highlights from the Lakers’ 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 on Sunday.
Anthony Davis makes three-pointer to give Lakers the win
With two seconds left, Anthony Davis caught an inbounds pass from the baseline and swished a three-pointer from the left wing as time expired with Nikola Jokic in his face challenging the shot.
The basket had to be confirmed by the officials. When it was for a 105-103 victory, the Lakers moved to within two wins from the NBA Finals. Game 3 is Tuesday night.
Davis scored the Lakers’ final 10 points and finished with a game-high 31. He was 11-for-23 shooting from the field and two-of-four from deep.
His last shot came after the Lakers missed two potential go-ahead buckets on the previous play, an Alex Caruso three that was off the mark and a Danny Green baseline jumper that was blocked by Jamal Murray. But Murray couldn’t save the ball from going out of bounds, giving the Lakers one last chance that Davis didn’t miss.
“I want to take those shots,” Davis told TNT in a postgame on-court interview. “I want the big-time plays.”
Davis also had nine rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and a steal in the win, finishing as a plus-eight in the plus/minus rating. LeBron James was the Lakers’ next-highest scorer with 26. Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each added 11 points.
The Lakers are now 10-2 in postseason play.
The Nuggets made it a back-and-forth finish when an earlier, wild Denver possession ended with Jokic tapping a partially-deflected Jamal Murray three-point try through the hoop from a couple feet away.
It gave the Nuggets a short-lived one-point lead, as Davis answered with a floater from the lane at the other end to put the Lakers right back in front, 102-101, with 26.7 second left.
Jokic had bullied his way into the paint and hit a floater over Davis for a 103-102 lead, setting up the final sequence. Jokic has scored 11 straight points and 30 overall for the Nuggets.
For a third straight series, the Nuggets find themselves trailing by two games. Jokic’s 30 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, weren’t enough, nor was a Denver defense that limited the Lakers to only 45 second-half points.
After Jokic, who shot nine of 20 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in addition to six rebounds, nine assists and four steals, Murray was Denver’s second-highest scorer with 25 points on eight-of-19 shooting. Murray was only two of nine from three-point range.
A key stat: Free-throw shooting, where Denver was only 25 of 33 compared to the Lakers’ 18 of 19. The Lakers also won the rebounding battle 44-31 and had four more points off turnovers, 19-15.
Nuggets trim Lakers’ lead to one point with 1:04 left
After LeBron James slipped on a drive and lost control of the ball, Nikola Jokic drills a three-pointer, his first of the night, to make it a one-point game, 100-99 Lakers, with 1:04 left to play.
Jokic has 26 points and has scored seven straight since the Lakers took that eight-point lead.
Lakers open eight-point lead late in game
A huge three-pointer from Anthony Davis opens up an eight-point lead, 100-92, for the Lakers with 3:03 remaining. After LeBron James dribbled down the shot clock, Davis took his cross-court pass at the left elbow and buried his first three-pointer of the night.
Davis now has 26 points — matching James for the Lakers’ team high — on nine-of-21 shooting, having scored most of his points on outside jump shots.
Lakers open 97-92 lead with four minutes left in fourth quarter
Denver momentarily relcaims the lead on a Jamal Murray bucket before back-to-back three-pointers from Danny Green and Rajon Rondo put the Lakers back in front.
The Nuggets aren’t going away, however. PJ Dozier, a surprise substitute called upon by Denver coach Michael Malone, hit an and-1 layup to make it a three-point game, 92-89 for the Lakers, with a free throw still to come. There is 6:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After having a 12-point edge in points in the paint in the first half, the Nuggets have now tied that category at 34-34.
After LeBron James checks back into the game with 5:53 to play, Caldwell-Pope hits a heavily contested corner three with the shot clock winding down, stretching the Lakers’ lead back to six points, 95-89. It’s the third three-pointer from Caldwell-Pope, who has 11 points.
A little later, Jokic gets fouled and makes one of two free throws. It’s only his fifth point of the second half, but trims the Lakers’ lead to 97-92 with a little over four minutes remaining.
Lakers reclaim lead with nine minutes left
The tie doesn’t last for long. On the next possession after Jamal Murray’s free throws, LeBron James made a tough layup through contact and got his own rebound after missing the and-1 free throw, eventually leading to a Kyle Kuzma layup.
A Mason Plumlee alley-oop at the other end makes it a one-possession game again, with Lakers leading 86-84 and less than nine minutes left to play.
Nuggets tie the score at 82-82 early in fourth quarter
The Nuggets have the first points of the fourth quarter, a Michael Porter Jr. put-back basket, and its a two-point game. Since being down 70-54 with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter, the Nuggets have outscored the Lakers 26-12.
After a Kyle Kuzma miss — he has only six points on two-of-six shooting, Jamal Murray draws a foul and makes both free throws to level the score, 82-82.
The score is tied for the first time since 14-14. Murray is up to 21 points.
Lakers hold narrow lead after three quarters
The Nuggets slowed down the game and outscored the Lakers 28-22 in the third quarter, cutting a Lakers’ lead once as large as 16 down to four, 82-78.
Anthony Davis was the offensive focal point in the third quarter for L.A., scoring 12 points to bring his game total to 21. LeBron James only has four points since the 7:43 mark of the second quarter, giving him 24 total.
Jamal Murray scored nine in the third quarter for Denver, giving him a team-high 19 points for the game. After only attempting seven shots in the first half, he took seven in the third quarter alone, making four of them.
Nuggets trim deficit to single digits in third quarter
The Nuggets are starting to chip away. They used a six-point scoring burst to make it a 10-point game. Minutes later, Torrey Craig completed a three-point play to cut the Laker lead to six, 74-68, following a 14-4 run.
Jokic is up to 18 points while Murray has 16.
Lakers increase lead to start third quarter
After the Nuggets missed open three-pointers on back-to-back possessions, Danny Green buries a jumper from downtown to open up a game-high 16-point lead for the Lakers, 70-54.
The Nuggets are only five-of-13 shooting from deep tonight and are now shooting just 40.9% from the field.
The Lakers have scored 10 of the first 14 points of the second half.
Lakers lead the Nuggets at halftime, 60-50
After dominating for long stretches of the first half, the Lakers lead the Nuggets 60-50 at halftime of Game 2.
The Lakers have the edge in field goal percentage (48.8% to Denver’s 43.2%), rebounds (22-14) and points in the pant (24-12).
LeBron James leads all scorers with 20 points. Alex Caruso and Anthony Davis also both have nine for the Lakers.
Nikola Jokic’s 14 points are the most for the Nuggets, while Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. have each scored 10.
Dwight Howard again making an impact
Dwight Howard has provided more key plays off the bench.
Earlier in the second quarter, he drew a foul beneath the basket and made a free throw. Then, after contesting a missed Nikola Jokic floater that bounced off the rim, Howard threw down an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Rajon Rondo.
Denver, meanwhile, has gone more than four minutes without a point and trail 52-38.
A couple technical fouls are suddenly called against the Lakers.
Howard was tagged with the first after getting tied up with Nikola Jokic under the Denver basket. Then, someone on the Lakers bench was T’d up moments later.
The resulting free throws have helped Denver close the deficit back to 10. Lakers ahead 55-45 less than two minutes from halftime.
Lakers open double-digit lead late in second quarter
Alex Caruso ignites the Lakers’ bench and puts his team back up by double digits, 47-36, extending a 9-1 run for the leaders.
After another Nuggets turnover, their 11th of the game, Caruso takes a pass in transition and finishes with a thunderous one-handed dunk through traffic.
After Denver called timeout, Lakers players came pouring onto the floor, pumped up by the 6-foot-5 guard’s first bucket of the night.
LeBron in attack mode
With the rest of his Lakers teammates off to a sluggish offensive start, LeBron James has looked to attack.
A possession after draining his third three-pointer, he muscled his way to the bucket for a layup and a foul. His made free throw gives him 20 points on eight-of-10 shooting in addition to four rebounds less than halfway through the second quarter.
He only had 15 in Game 1 of the series, although the Lakers did win easily.
Nuggets close deficit early in second quarter
After a back-and-forth sequence, the Nuggets draw within four points and the Lakers call timeout.
Jamal Murray blocked a Danny Green layup, then stole the ball from Kyle Kuzma in transition moments later, setting up a Monte Morris three-pointer that makes it 35-31 less than three minutes into the second quarter.
In addition to his seven points, Murray has a rebound, assist, steal and block for the Nuggets.
Lakers lead 29-21 at end of first quarter
The Lakers lead 29-21 at the end of the first quarter, with LeBron James (12 points, three rebounds and five-for-seven shooting) and Anthony Davis (six points, three rebounds) leading the way.
The Nuggets got a series of buckets from their big two late in the quarter to keep the deficit in single digits. After opening one-of-seven shooting from the field, Nikola Jokic made a couple jumpers in the final two minutes before Jamal Murray finished at the rim in transition at the buzzer.
Two key first quarter stats: The Lakers are outrebounding the Nuggets 15-7 and have forced seven turnovers.
Lakers open 10-point lead late in first quarter
The Lakers have made it an 18-3 run, getting contributions from their bench and Anthony Davis.
Rajon Rondo stole the ball from Nikola Jokic on one end, then assisted on Kyle Kuzma’s baseline jumper at the other.
Davis began to heat up by hitting floaters on back-to-back possessions for his first points of the night.
Then, Caldwell-Pope buried a three-pointer to make it 25-15 with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period and force Denver to call another timeout.
Lakers rally for 14-12 lead in first quarter
After LeBron James scored the Lakers’ first 12 points, Danny Green goes end-to-end for a transition layup to put the Lakers in front 14-12 with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone calls timeout with the Lakers on a 7-0 run, highlighted by Green blocking a dunk attempt by Paul Millsap at the rim.
James has started five-for-six shooting from the field. The rest of the Lakers are one-for-13 (including five missed shots from Anthony Davis). The Lakers do hold an early 11-7 edge on the glass and have six offensive rebounds.
LeBron James scores early but Lakers fall behind
Neither team shot well in the early going, as only two of the game’s first 15 shots dropped.
LeBron James has all seven of the Lakers’ points while Jerami Grant and Jamal Murray both have five for Denver.
Lakers down 10-7 just over five minutes into the first quarter.
Game 2 is underway, with no changes to starting lineups
The Lakers will roll with the same starting five for Game 2: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee.
Frank Vogel said Saturday he considered inserting Dwight Howard into the starting lineup after his 13-point Game 1 performance, but instead stuck with McGee, who played less than 11 minutes on Friday.
The Nuggets countered with the same starting group as well: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic.
Some fresh kicks for AD
Lakers forward Anthony Davis sports a special pair of gold-and-black Nikes during warmups. Not sure if he’ll be wearing them during the game.
A familiar move by Jamal Murray
The Lakers were able to contain Denver’s dynamic duo — guard Jamal Murray and center Nikola Jokic — in Game 1.
Murray works pregame Sunday on his patented step-back jumper.
AD works on his shot
Lakers reporter Broderick Turner has been in the NBA’s bubble for a cuple of weeks now. He’s in what is called Group 2, so he stays outside the bubble and follows strict protocols to arrive at the arena and catch the games from the upper level.
He caught Anthony Davis working on his shot.
LeBron loosens up for Game 2
LeBron James flips in a left-handed shot along the baseline while warming up, as seen in the video by NBA reporter Dan Woike.
Courtside from Game 2
The Times’ NBA reporter, Dan Woike, has arrived at the arena for Game 2.
Some things to remembers about Lakers’ Game 1 win
While most of LeBron James’ postgame news conference revolved around the discussion of the voting for the NBA’s MVP award, there was plenty more to talk about after the Lakers’ 126-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Points included the return of Rajon “Playoff” Rondo, the three-point shooting of two veteran role players and defense.
Here are five takeaways from Game 1:
1. Rajon Rondo might not like the “Playoff Rondo” moniker but ever since he hit a stride in his return to the Lakers, he has been a critical part of their playoff success. His defense was pesky for the Nuggets on Friday and he dished nine assists off the bench.
2. Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provided pops of scoring for the Lakers at critical points. They combined to make six of nine three-point attempts. Morris played 16 minutes and his three-for-four three-point shooting accounted for all of his scoring in the game. Caldwell-Pope played nearly 30 minutes and gave the Lakers other scoring as well. Overall, he was six of 10 shooting for 18 points.
3. The Lakers pride themselves on their defense, so they weren’t pleased with how they started the game. They gave up 38 points to the Nuggets, with stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray combining for 20, and trailed by two. “We just had to lock in defensively,” Anthony Davis said. “We knew that Jamal and Jokic are going to come out firing, come out trying to score, and we had to make sure that we try and contain them. At times they made some good shots, but our coverages were kind of messed up, so we tried to get back to our coverages and do it the right way.”
4. The postgame news conferences went in different directions Friday night, but there was one unanswered question: How is James’ left ankle? He injured it when he stepped on the foot of Nuggets forward Jerami Grand during a drive down the lane in the second quarter. While it didn’t force James out of the game, he did leave the court before the game officially ended, presumably to begin tending to it. After the game he had a wrap on it that seemed a little more permanent than the ice wraps he normally covers his joints with after games.
5. As much as the Lakers were upset about their defense in the first quarter, the Nuggets were upset about their own early defense. But for Denver, defense remained a problem throughout the game. “Even in the first quarter we didn’t guard anybody,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Our offense was able to score ... but there was little defense. A huge point of emphasis going into this series was transition, getting back, makes, misses, turnovers, dead balls. They scored 25 transition points tonight and 15 turnovers for 20 points fueled their break.”
Jared Dudley’s son enjoying Camp Lakers in the bubble
A very active, angry LeBron James yelled “And One” five times Friday in the Lakers’ Game 1 rout of Denver after scoring on a drive — one for each of the Nuggets who couldn’t stop him.
And then, wearing nearly $1,000 worth of streetwear between his designer sneakers and T-shirt while sitting courtside during the Lakers’ practice Saturday, he yelled it again.
This time, the stakes, just like the players, were a little smaller.
Jared Dudley’s 8-year-old son, Justus — everyone calls him “Juju” — trailed Dion Waiters’ young son on the way to the basket, with Juju putting his hand on Dion Jr.’s back right when he shot.
“And One,” James yelled again.
But this wasn’t your typical foul, with Juju explaining that he was simply paying it forward, working with Dion Waiters Jr. on how to finish at the basket when there’s some contact.
It’s seems fitting that Juju Dudley has this attitude about him. He’s the lone enrollee in the world’s most exclusive basketball camp. The instructors are James, Anthony Davis, the Lakers coaches and his NBA father, the Dudley boys making the most of their time in the NBA bubble.
“It’s the perfect age,” Jared Dudley said. “You remember it. It’s an inspiration. And you see the hard work.”
Lakers might start Dwight Howard at center for Game 2
In his return to the Lakers’ rotation, Dwight Howard made the Denver Nuggets pay in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.
He scored, he played defense, and he drew the Nuggets’ fouls, helping to get their key players into foul trouble and rendering them less effective.
And Howard got his head coach thinking about starting him.
“I’m considering that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “But I won’t release our starting lineup until tomorrow night 30 minutes before the game.
“You measure how quickly you want to make a move,” Vogel added. “You always want to have moves to make in terms of you don’t want to just start with your Plan C or D. You try Plan A first and see how that works and how that plays out, and then it’s a case-by-case, game-by-game, series-by-series type of evaluation.”