The Los Angeles Lakers are a victory away from returning to the NBA Finals and only another comeback from 3-1 down by the Denver Nuggets can stop them.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points and LeBron James had 26 as the Lakers beat the Nuggets 114-108 on Thursday in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
“We played great down the stretch, we played great overall,” Davis said. “Still some things that we can fix if we want to put this thing away.”
Davis got the Lakers off to a fast start with his scoring and James helped them finish it with his defense, forcing Jamal Murray into some late misses after the guard had kept the Nuggets in it with an array of high-difficulty baskets.
“I knew it was winning time and Jamal had it going,” James said.
James added nine rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers had 12 offensive rebounds for a 25-6 advantage in second-chance points.
“This is the Western Conference finals, Game 4. If you can’t help us on the defensive end, maybe you shouldn’t be on the floor,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We have to be able to lock in, finish with a rebound. We had too many empty possessions tonight.”
Game 5 is to be played today, when the Lakers can reach the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade.
Davis said he expects to be fine for it after rolling his ankle in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets face elimination for the seventh time in the bubble. They were down 3-1 against the Utah Jazz in the first round and climbed out of the same hole against the Los Angeles Clippers in the West semi-finals.
However, they could not come back in this game, getting within one point in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but constantly turned back from there by a key stop or rebound by the Lakers.
“We just had so many breakdowns throughout the game,” Murray said. “We’ve just got to be better.”
The Lakers have 16 championships, one behind the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history, but they have not played for one since winning their most recent title in 2010.
The Lakers started Dwight Howard at center. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds, helping put Nikola Jokic into foul trouble.
Murray had 32 points and eight assists, but Jokic finished with just 16 points and seven rebounds.
Davis scored 27 points in Game 3, but the 2.08m forward said that his two-rebound performance was “unacceptable.”
He came out much more aggressively on Thursday after the Lakers played from behind for a lot of the previous game.
With an array of short jumpers, Davis made his first six shots before anyone else on the Lakers made a basket. Then Howard scored on consecutive follow shots before James followed with his first two field goals.
Murray kept the Lakers from getting too far away with a 7-for-8 start. He followed his acrobatic layup around James with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the half with a pair of free throws that cut it to four, before the Lakers took a 60-55 edge to the locker room.
The Nuggets shot 59 percent in the first half, but the Lakers led 18-2 on second-chance points.
The Lakers seemed to be taking control when Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for a flurry that pushed the lead to 11 with less than four minutes remaining in the third, but Michael Porter Jr hit two three-pointers late in the period that cut it to 87-84 going to the fourth.
Taiwanese swimmer Eddie Wang on Saturday broke the 200m short course butterfly world junior record at the opening meet of the International Swimming League season in Budapest, Hungary. The 18-year-old, who was representing the Cali Condors, a San Francisco-based professional swimming club, finished third in 1 minute, 50.79 seconds. Wang finished behind winner Tom Shields of the LA Current (1:50.43) and runner-up Chad le Clos of Energy Standard (1:50.48). Wang’s time broke the 2012 world junior record of 1:51.30 set by former Japanese national team captain Daiya Seto. It also broke his national record of 1:52.38, set at the 2018 FINA World Cup meeting
A team made up mostly of Guatemalans who live and work in Taiwan were on Sunday crowned winners of the women’s Copa America Taiwan soccer tournament after defeating a Paraguayan team in the final in New Taipei City. Guatemala defeated Paraguay 3-1 in a final that kept hundreds of spectators on the edge of their seats at Fu Jen Catholic University Stadium. The two teams attacked at will early in the match as both looked to take an early lead, but it was Paraguay who went in front after a cleverly worked free-kick was headed into the net. In the second half, Guatemala
GOOD NIGHT’S WORK: Cody Bellinger not only hit the go-ahead homer, he also snagged the final out when Julio Urias got Austin Riley to fly out to center field Cody Bellinger on Sunday belted a go-ahead home run and Mookie Betts made another eye-popping catch as the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to their third World Series in the past four years with a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Bellinger blasted the eventual game-winning homer in the seventh inning and Enrique Hernandez smacked a pinch-hit home run in the sixth as the Dodgers clawed their way back to win the final three games after being down 3-1 in the series. “I tried to stay within myself and I got a pitch I
Mathieu van der Poel on Sunday took the Tour of Flanders honors for the Dutch cross-code rider’s first win in one of cycling’s so-called “Monuments.” The race was overshadowed by world champion Julian Alaphilippe’s heavy fall after colliding with a motorcycle. Van der Poel had slipped away from the peloton with his great Belgian rival Wout van Aert, who like him is a three-time cycle cross world champion, and Alaphilippe forming a three-man breakaway. However, Alaphilippe crashed out of contention, leaving the duo to fight it out in a pulsating finish. “The world champion was taken to the hospital where the X-rays showed fractures