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Playoffs 2020

NBA Playoffs 2020: LeBron James takes over late to give Lakers a commanding 3-1 series lead

For a third consecutive game, the Denver Nuggets hung around to make it a competitive contest but in Game 4, the Los Angeles Lakers never gave up their lead and eventually won 114-106.

The win gives the West's top-seeded franchise a 3-1 series lead yet again in the 2020 playoffs. LeBron James came close to a second consecutive triple-double with 26 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, while Anthony Davis had 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting as the Lakers rode their advantage on the glass to victory.

After getting outrebounded 44-25 in Game 3, the Lakers won that battle in Game 4 by eight (41-33). That advantage led to multiple second-chance points, a category Los Angeles dominated 25-6.

For the Nuggets, Jamal Murray was the star with 32 points and eight assists on 12-of-20 shooting. Four other Denver players finished in double figures but they couldn't complete the comeback in this game.

For more on this Game 4, here are some key observations:

1. AD's PERFECT start

Davis is the leading scorer in this series, averaging 31.7 points through the first three games, but the Brow went supernova in the first quarter.

He started the game by scoring 12 of the team's first 14 points, and eventually finished the period with 14 on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field. .

2. Dwight Howard starts, makes big first half impact

For the first time this series, the Lakers led the game after the first 12 minutes (37-30) and while AD got off to a scorching start, they also received big performances from LeBron James (10 points) but more importatnly Dwight Howard.

In every game of this series, Howard's been part of a Laker run in the second quarter, but he showed his energy can spur a run in any quarter. In Game 4, he joined the starting line-up, something Frank Vogel said he was considering after Game 1 and made a huge impact.

In nine first-quarter minutes, he had eight points. eight rebounds (4 offensive), and was a +7. By halftime, after playing five second-quarter minutes, he had 11 points and 10 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass.

3. Murray's Jordan-esque layup!

Jamal Murray put on a show in Game 4, producing the play of the day in the second quarter with this acrobatic layup.

How on earth did he get this to go?

4. Lakers' cold streak helps Denver hang around

The Nuggets were shooting upwards of 50% from the field for all of the first half but the Lakers' second-chance points, an 18-2 differential, had them leading by as many as 12.

Denver was able to bring that deficit down to just five (60-55) at halftime, courtesy of the Lakers' cold streak to end the half. Over the final 6:23 of the second quarter, the Lakers missed 11 of their 13 field goals.

At halftime, the Nuggets shot 23-of-39 (59%) from the field and were led by three double-digit scorers in Murray (16 points, four assists), Jokic (10 points, three rebounds, two assists), and Grant (10 points).

The Lakers, on the other hand, had four double-digit scorers - LeBron (14 points, five assists, four rebounds), Davis (19 points), Howard (11 points, 10 rebounds), and Kyle Kuzma (10 points).

5. Nuggets respond to every Laker run in the 3rd

Coming out of the half, Los Angeles stretched their lead to eight or more multiple times with mini-runs, but every single time, the Nuggets responded with one of their own.

Rajon Rondo had eight points in the period but Michael Porter Jr.'s two triples towards the end of the third quarter, one with just 0.6 left, helped Denver make it an 87-84 game heading into the final quarter.

The two threes capped-off a Nuggets' 11-4 run over the final three minutes of the period after the Lakers held an 83-73 lead.

6. MURRAY, what even?

Over a short stretch from the 8:06 mark to 5:46, Jokic was forced to sit on the bench with five fouls. The game could have turned but Murray had other ideas..

He got a couple of tough buckets to fall, leading the Nuggets to an 8-4 run without Jokic to make it 99-96 - crucial!

7. Lakers vets take over late

Down the stretch in the fourth, the Nuggets never took the lead but threatened to do so at several points, but in the end the Lakers leaned on their veterans to two veterans to have the final say.

The duo of LeBron and Rajon Rondo scored or assisted on 15 of the team's last 17 points over the final 6:17 of the game. James even took the defensive responsibility of guarding Denver's hot hand - Murray - over the final few minutes.

8. Up next

For a third straight series in the 2020 playoffs, the Nuggets trail 3-1. After two successful comebacks, do they have another 3-1 bounce back in them?

That comeback begins Game 5, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 27th at 6:30 a.m. IST

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