LeBron James And Anthony Davis They sat in front of their lockers side by side with their legs in ice buckets.
They didn’t say a word to each other. James looked at his phone. Davis stared a thousand yards away.
The Lakers have beaten a lot this season, but their 119-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets In Game Three of the Western Conference Finals they turned their hilarious post-trade deadline locker room into an awkward space filled with deafening silence.
The Lakers now find themselves in a 3-0 hole in the series, something no team in NBA history has ever beaten.
When asked if there is still a belief that they can turn things around, James makes it clear that he is not waving the white flag.
“I can’t speak for the guys right now, because I don’t know what’s on their minds right now — but I still do,” said James, who scored 23 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists.
“So, you know, it’s time to go straight home and start refueling and start the treatment process and the recovery process and get ready for Monday. My mind is always locked up like it’s Game One.”
The Lakers haven’t given up hope yet — not with James in the locker room, who’s known for rewriting history.
led the Cleveland Cavaliers To become the first and only team to recover from a 3-1 series deficit in the NBA Finals in 2016, stunning Golden State Warriors who had the best regular season record in NBA history (73-9).
He became the league’s leading scorer this season – surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 points – despite being a first-choice player during his 20-season career.
And at age 38, he became the oldest player in league history to average 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists, according to StatHead.
So in the face of impossibly long odds, James will attempt to rewrite history once more. Heading into Monday’s fourth-elimination match, James said his message to his team will be simple.
“I mean, I only got one,” James said. “Just one by one. Just focus on the fourth game, you know, that’s all you can really think about.”
The Lakers have been fighting an uphill battle all season.
After they won their playoff game against Minnesota on April 11 to secure the seventh seed in the West, Lakers coach Darvin Hamm wrote on the whiteboard “0.3%,” referring to the chances their analytics department gave them to make the playoffs after a 2-10 start. At the trade deadline, they were in 13th place in the Western Conference.
Nobody expected the Lakers to reach the Western Conference Finals.
They’re clinging to that now. They did the hard work of getting here. Why not do what seems impossible now?
“The difference is 3-0, not 4,” Hamm said. “As long as they haven’t made it to four yet, there’s still hope. We’re still alive. We just have to focus on winning one game.”
In all three games of this series, the Lakers were within three points of the Nuggets going into the fourth quarter. In their last two matches, they have held the lead. But every game ended the same way, as the Lakers beat the Nuggets with size, depth, and superstardom.
In Game 3, the Lakers held a one-point lead with 7:48 left, 94-93, before the Nuggets took a 13-0 lead.
Really, the Lakers were playing catch-up all night. Jamal Murray scored 17 points in the first quarter on 8-for-10 shooting to give the Nuggets a 14-point lead, their largest lead of the game. By halftime, he had scored 30 of his 37 points in 21 minutes.
The Lakers fought their way back to tie the game in the third quarter. But in the fourth quarter, things fell apart for the Lakers when Jeff GreenAnd Bruce Brown Murray hit straight 3-pointers.
Once again, the Nuggets proved they had more weapons, more talent and more energy when it mattered most.
Other than James, the Lakers only got major contributions Anthony Davis (28 points and 18 rebounds), Austin Reeves (23 points) f Roy Hashimura (13 points). Meanwhile, the Nuggets had five players in two personalities.
Now, the Nuggets franchise that has never made it to the NBA Finals is about to make history. And the Lakers, 17-time champions, are about to drift off.
Nikola Jokic Far from a celebration.
Gokic said, who didn’t score a field goal until about 4 minutes into the second quarter, but went on to finish the game with 24 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
“We’re going to come here with the same mentality, the same focus, and I think that will put us in a position to win the game. But we never know. They’re going to be aggressive. Of course, they’re going to be extra physical, extra — they’re going to run more.” “
For the Lakers, everything is on the line.
So far, they have persevered with every challenge they have faced, but this will be their greatest challenge yet.
Now, all they can do is grit their teeth and hope they’ll be victorious again – four times in a row.
“Obviously, as you can see throughout this season, we’ve always been a team to fight,” Davies said. “We are resilient. Everyone keeps fighting until it’s over. It’s not over.”
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, Los Angeles Times, Bay Area News Group, and San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @Melissarohlen.
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