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Playoffs 2020

NBA Playoffs 2020: Nine Observations as Anthony Davis' game-winner carries Lakers to 2-0 series lead over Nuggets

Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals was nothing like Game 1.

The Nuggets were still down by double digits but this time they battled back, just like they have been for much of these playoffs, however it was Anthony Davis who had the final say. With 2.1 seconds remaining and the Lakers trailing 103-102, the Brow ran to the wing and knocked down a buzzer-beating three that gave L.A. a 2-0 series lead.

Davis finished with a game-high 31 points while LeBron James tallied up 26 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists as the Lakers rode each of their stars in either half. For Denver, Nikola Jokic came back from a rough Game 1 to finish with 30 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals including a late-game individual 11-2 run, but it wasn't enough.

For more on this exciting game, here are a few key observations:

1. LeBron's red-hot early start

After just 15 points in Game 1, LeBron James started Game 2 on fire. Over the first 7:30 minutes of the first quarter, he had 12 of the team's first 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field.

However, it wasn't the same for the rest of the Lakers. None of his teammates got on the board till the 4:30 mark in the first quarter when Danny Green got a layup to fall in transition, shooting 0-of-12 until then.

Despite his layup that got the rest of the Lakers going, the starting shooting guard made the highlight-reel on the defensive end early.

The Nuggets meanwhile started 0-of-4 from the field and four turnovers but were able to turn it on, thanks to an 8-0 that only had them trailing 12-14.

2. Murray with the buzzer-beater AGAIN

For the second straight game, Jamal Murray got a first-quarter buzzer-beater to fall. Unlike Game 1, which was a triple that gave the Nuggets a 38-36 lead, this reverse layup helped Denver cut the Lakers lead to eight at 29-21.

Over the final minutes of the first quarter, the Lakers created some distance with a 13-3 run with LeBron on the bench.

3. Benches spark game of runs in 2nd Q

Denver's bench ensured there would be no game-altering Lakers run to begin the second quarter. The trio of Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris, and Mason Plumlee sparked a run that got them within just three points of the Lakers (38-35).

The duo of Morris (7) and Porter Jr. (7) scored all of the 14 points in this run with backup center Mason Plumlee assisting on four of the five field goals.

But the Lakers' second unit responded, sparking with a 17-5 run . Having played all through the run, reserve Alex Caruso was a +12 in that span for the Lakers. He was responsible for a total of eight points in this quarter, scoring five and dishing out to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a three.

Also during this run, Rajon Rondo had three of his five first-half assists and Dwight Howard finished with three points.

All five of the Nuggets' points during this run came from the free-throw line as the Lakers' 6-of-8 shooting allowed them to overcome four turnovers.

4. Game in balance at halftime

At halftime, the Lakers were still leading but it felt like the Nuggets hadn't let them run away it like Game 1.

After dishing out 12 assists in Game 1, James just had one in the first half of Game 2 as the scorer in him took over.

No other Laker was in double figures but Caruso and Davis combined for 18 points as the Los Angeles shot 21-of-43 from the field (48.8%) and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free-throw line to a 60-50 lead.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, were led by three double-digit scorers in Nikola Jokic (14 points, 4 assists), Jamal Murray (10 points), and Porter Jr. (10 points).

5. Comeback kids don't give in

A mini 10-4 run meant the Lakers led by 16 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter but then, that's when the Nuggets switched on their comeback.

For the rest of the quarter, they outscored Los Angeles 24-12 making it a four-point game entering the fourth quarter (82-78).

Jokic and Murray were the was the stars in this quarter. The Canadian guard had nine points and was a +10 in his 11 minutes while Jokic dished out five assists to go along with his four points

6. PJ Dozier's 4th Q impact

For the first three quarters PJ Dozier only played a couple of minutes with no impact on the stat sheet.

The fourth quarter was a different story. Although he played the entire period, it was a short three-minute stint where he kept the Nuggets close. First, with an alley-oop to Mason Plumlee.

He followed that up by picking up a charge on Kuzma. Then, he finished through contact on Davis, a finalist for the Defensive Player of the year.

7. LA get hot from 3 after Denver take lead

After coming so close all through the third quarter, the Nuggets finally took the lead 87-86, their first since leading 12-10, and it came off an incredibly tough reverse from Murray:

Just like the first half, LA responded. They scored 12 of next 14 points from long distance push lead back to 100-92

8. AD wins battle of bigs late

The Lakers led for much of the second half but were getting a quiet second half from LeBron - six points and three assists - but that's because AD was taking over.

Davis scored 22 of his 31 in the second half on 8-of-14 shooting. That's not all, he scored the final 10 points for the Lakers including the game-winner.

His buzzer-beater made Nikola Jokic's heroics go in vain. The Serbian had scored the last 12 Nuggets points and outscored the Lakers 11-2 to bring the Nuggets from 100-92 down to a 103-102 lead.

9. Up next

In each of their last four playoff series, all of which have gone to a Game 7, the Nuggets have never found themselves down 0-2. How will they respond?

If their play in the 2020 postseason is any indication, counting them out could be a mistake. Their third straight playoff series comeback would begin in Game 3 on Tuesday, Sept., 22nd at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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