Lakers on brink of elimination after losing Game 3 119-108

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets shoots the ball against Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder of the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Jamal Murray had 37 points as the Denver Nuggets handed the Los Angeles Lakers their first home loss of this postseason, pushing the purple and gold to the brink of elimination with a 119-108 win in Los Angeles Saturday night.

The Nuggets led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, getting out to a strong start. Murray had an absurd 30 points in the first half, shooting 65% from the floor. A strong second quarter from the Lakers saw them briefly tie it at 55, but the Nuggets took a 58-55 lead into the locker room.

The Lakers kept up the pressure for most of the second half, cutting the Nuggets' lead to just one at several points, before a 3-pointer from Rui Hachimura with 11 minutes left gave the Lakers their first lead since the team's first basket of the game. But that lead was short-lived, as the Nuggets went on a 13-0 run soon after, bringing the game out of reach for the Lakers. 

LeBron James, Anthony Daivs and Austin Reaves all scored 20 plus points, but their efforts were not enough, as Nikola Jokić led Denver's effort in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets are now one win away from their first ever NBA Finals appearance after handing LA their first home loss of the postseason. The Lakers now face elimination Monday night at Arena.

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  • Game 4: Nuggets at Lakers, Monday, May 22, 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Game 5*: Lakers at Nuggets, Wednesday, May 24, 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Game 6*: Nuggets at Lakers, Friday, May 26, 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Game 7*: Lakers at Nuggets, Sunday, May 28, 5:30 p.m. PT

*=if necessary

The Lakers entered this series as underdogs, much to be expected when a No. 7 seed goes against the top seeded team in the conference. The Lakers entered the Western Conference Finals as +140 underdogs according to Caesars Sportsbook

It's been a turbulent season for the Lakers, who started the 2022-2023 season with a 2-10 record. Then, LeBron James broke the all-time scoring record that former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held for nearly four decades just before the NBA trade deadline. Things started to turn around from there. The team said farewell to Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverly, and welcomed D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura, then proceeded to go an NBA-best 16-7 after the All-Star Break to help make the play-in tournament.

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The team has been on a tear since entering the playoffs — the Lakers beat out the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime in their play-in game, then proceeded to knock off the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and the defending champion Golden State Warriors on the way to their matchup with the Nuggets. Prior to Saturday, the Lakers were undefeated at home this postseason.

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The Nuggets have been much more steady this season, finishing with the fourth-best record in the NBA, and obviously the best record in the west. Center Nikola Jokić finished second in NBA MVP voting behind Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nuggets, like the Lakers are unbeaten at home this postseason. On their way to their fifth Western Conference Finals the Nuggets took down the Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns. 

Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals will be Monday May 22, at 5:30 p.m. PT from Arena in Los Angeles.