Nikola Jokic survives shot in Game 3

First sightings from Los Angeles after Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Nuggets and Lakers.

1. Joker escapes the slog: What could be crazier than Jamal Murray’s historic journey? In the same 24-minute span when Murray had 40 points — the fourth quarter of Game 2 and the first quarter of Game 3 — Nikola Jokic didn’t score a single point. The Nuggets outscored the Lakers 64-44 in that streak anyway, clinching their two-time MVP as he suddenly entered an extended cold spell. When the Lakers cut Denver’s 14-point lead to 66-63 and forced a timeout in the third quarter, Jokic had just countered a 6-foot floater that’s usually automatic for him. He was 3 of 11 from the field in the game at the time, and he committed his fourth foul moments later. When Jokic missed his first two shots of the fourth quarter, he was 7 for his last 27 dating back to Game 2. Then he made a final 15-point frame to help Denver put away LA.

2. How did the Nuggets survive seven critical minutes? : Jokic sat out the final 7:24 minutes of the third quarter after the Nuggets failed to overturn that fourth foul with a challenge. Murray, after a blazing 30-point first half, failed to score the entire third quarter. LeBron James made his first two 3-pointers of the series on consecutive possessions during that seven-minute streak. Yet somehow the Nuggets came out with an 84-82 advantage, a margin just one point short of their halftime lead. For the Lakers, it was a serious missed opportunity to pull away or even take the lead — perhaps the defining moments of a series that was beginning to slip away from them. For the Nuggets, it was a testament to a gritty second unit. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had the biggest shots of his night with 17 points on 10 shots, and Bruce Brown continued to earn money in transition.


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