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LeBron scores 30, and the Lakers avoid 1st-round elimination with a 119-108 win over champion Denver

Sat, Apr 27, 2024
NBA News (AP)

LeBron scores 30, and the Lakers avoid 1st-round elimination with a 119-108 win over champion Denver

LOS ANGELES (AP) - LeBron James scored 30 points, Anthony Davis added 25 points and 23 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers avoided playoff elimination with a 119-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their first-round series Saturday night.

D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves scored 21 points apiece for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who snapped their 11-game losing streak against the defending NBA champions with their first win over the Nuggets since December 2022.

Denver swept Los Angeles out of the Western Conference finals last season, but the current Lakers responded to this 0-3 deficit with a performance more worthy of a team that rolled into the postseason with 12 wins in 15 games. James scored 14 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-8 shooting, again carrying the Lakers late in his 21st NBA season.

Nikola Jokic had 33 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists in the two-time MVP's 18th career triple-double and second in this series.

Game 5 is Monday night in Denver.

After blowing a double-digit lead in each of the first three games of the series, Los Angeles again took a healthy lead early in the second half of Game 4, but never fell behind again despite the Nuggets' unsurprising late rally.

READ MORE Magic's second straight rout of Cavaliers 112-89, ties series at 2-2 James, Lakers facing elimination Saturday. Magic, Pelicans and Heat seek home wins Gordon, Jokic lead the Nuggets to the brink of a sweep with a 112-105 win over the Lakers in Game 3

Michael Porter Jr. had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Denver, and Jamal Murray scored 22 points while going 0 for 4 on 3-point attempts. Aaron Gordon had just seven points for the Nuggets after putting up 29 in Game 3 during the highest-scoring playoff game of his career.

The Lakers' 19-point lead with just over six minutes left dwindled to 113-106 on Jokic's three-point play with 1:25 left, but Reaves hit a short jumper before adding two free throws as LA held on.

The second-seeded Nuggets also lost a closeout game in last season's first round while up 3-0 on Minnesota, but Denver won that series in five games and lost only three more times on the way to its first title.

The Lakers showed no quit in their dire circumstances in Game 4, pounding the ball inside for 44 points in the paint during the first half alone. Los Angeles' 61-48 halftime lead also was its fourth of the series.

The Lakers stretched their advantage to 15 points in the third quarter and kept building until the final minutes, when Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finally sparked a Nuggets rally.

Reggie Jackson played nine minutes for Denver despite spraining his ankle in the second half of Game 3. Nuggets coach Michael Malone initially didn't think Jackson would be available for Game 4, but the 13-year veteran stunned the coaches with his quick recovery.

Caleb Williams, the Heisman Trophy-winning former USC quarterback and the No. 1 overall pick in this weekend's NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, watched the game from courtside.



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