Lakers knocking on NBA Finals door after Game 4 victory

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Sep 25 2020 11:39 AM | Updated as of Sep 25 2020 05:04 PM

LeBron James' all-around brilliance was one of the factors that helped Los Angeles win Game 4. Mark J. Terrill, AP

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 34 points, LeBron James added 26 and the Los Angeles Lakers never lost the lead over the final three quarters Thursday night en route to a 114-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals near Orlando.

The top-seeded Lakers hold a 3-1 lead in the series and are within one win of the NBA Finals. Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday.

Jamal Murray paced the Nuggets with 32 points and eight assists, but he misfired on all three of his 3-point attempts. 

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"He's is one of the hottest guys in the bubble," James said of Murray. "He's very shifty to guard. I just use my length and athleticism, high hand him and meet him at the basket."

Los Angeles led each of its previous two series 3-1 before closing out the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets on its first opportunity to advance.

Meanwhile, the third-seeded Nuggets find themselves in familiar territory facing a 3-1 deficit. They also trailed the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers 3-1 in their first two rounds before stunning each with three-game turnarounds to move on.

"We knew coming in that we didn't rebound at all (in game three) and we just tried to change that," said James.

After losing for the first time in the series on Tuesday, the Lakers led by 10 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second and 11 in the third before the Nuggets rallied within 87-86 on a pair of free throws by Monte Morris with 11:14 remaining in the game.

Denver managed to hang within 105-102 and got possession after a Davis turnover. However, James pressured Murray into a short-range miss, and Rajon Rondo countered at the other end for a five-point lead with 2:48 to go.

The Los Angeles advantage was still five when James missed a jumper with 1:05 to play. However, the Lakers' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope snatched the offensive rebound and the Nuggets fouled James, whose two foul shots with 59 seconds left opened a 111-104 lead and iced the win.

Free throws by Rondo (one) and Davis (two) then secured the win and put the Lakers one victory away from their first NBA Finals appearance since winning the title in 2010.

Davis, the series' leading scorer, hit 10 of his 15 shots and went 13-for-14 at the free-throw line. The Lakers, for the second time in the four games, used a large disparity in fouls shots to outscore Denver 28-20 at the line and overcome the Nuggets' 50.6 percent to 47.5 percent advantage in field-goal shooting.

James shot 11-for-14 at the line and joined with Davis in getting Nuggets big men Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap in foul trouble.

James also found time for nine rebounds and a game-high-tying eight assists.

"We knew coming in that we didn't rebound at all (in game three) and we just tried to change that," James said.

Four other Lakers scored in double figures, with Caldwell-Pope going for 13, Dwight Howard 12 to complement a game-high 11 rebounds, Rondo 11 and Kyle Kuzma 10.

Denver's Jerami Grant finished with 17 points, Jokic 16, Michael Porter Jr. 13 and a team-high eight rebounds and Morris 12.