In the 2020 playoffs, the Denver Nuggets have played some of their best basketball with their backs against the wall, going 6-0 in elimination games. Down 0-2 in the Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, they responded to adversity yet again.
"I give credit where credit is due," LeBron James said postgame after the 114-106 Game 3 loss. "Denver played exceptionally well."
James recorded his 26th playoff triple-double with 30 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. He scored (9) or assisted on 11 points in the Lakers' huge 19-2 run that saw them come within three points with 3:54 minutes left after being down by as many as 20.
MORE: 9 observations as Nuggets survive Lakers comeback in Game 3 win
"It starts with me because I'm the point guard of the team and then it trickles down to everybody else," James said postgame referring to the team's 16 turnovers. "We did the same thing in Game 2. We had 24 turnovers and luckily, it didn't bite us in the butt but it should have."
The Lakers' turnovers in Game 3, six of which were by James, resulted in 25 points for the Nuggets. The 20-point deficit was not just the largest of the game, but the most the Lakers have trailed in a game through the entire 2020 postseason.
Another huge difference in Game 3 was the rebounding. After tying with Denver at 48 in Game 1 and then beating them 50-44 in Game 2, the Lakers were thoroughly outplayed on the glass in Game 3. Denver outrebounded them 44-25 including 9-4 on the offensive glass that resulted in an 11-4 advantage in second-chance points.
Of the 25, the Lakers' three big men - Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and JaVale McGee - only combined for four boards.
"I have to do a better job on the glass personally. I can't have two rebounds for the entire game," Davis said postgame.
"I have to do a better job on the glass personally. I can't have two rebounds for the entire game." @AntDavis23 on his night on the glass and the #Lakers lack of aggressiveness to start the game. pic.twitter.com/5OwYORUcL6- Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) September 23, 2020
"We just didn't play hard enough," Kyle Kuzma added in his postgame interaction with the media. "Can't be careless with the ball."
Despite all of the above numbers and trailing by as many as 20, the Lakers' fourth-quarter rally brought them within touching distance of a commanding 3-0 series lead.
"We'll be fine," Davis added, pointing to the fact that the Lakers still have control of the series with the 2-1 series lead.
During their comeback in the fourth, the Lakers, one of the league's best defensive teams in the regular season and playoffs, recorded five steals and forced the Nuggets into six turnovers, using their zone defence to turn up the pressure.
"I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn't match it early, we matched it late." Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said postgame
"I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn't match it early, we matched it late." Frank Vogel on the #Lakers late run and the zone defense in the fourth. pic.twitter.com/yN2ZF6E0sQ- Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) September 23, 2020
Despite this disappointing result in Game 3, the Lakers can take a commanding 3-1 series lead when both teams suit up for Game 4 on Thursday, September 24th at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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