Down 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals, should the Denver Nuggets have cause for concern, or do they have the Lakers right where they want them?
Game 2 was a painful loss for the Denver Nuggets.
Following a 10-point halftime deficit, they rallied back behind a 28-22 third quarter and knotted the game at 82 following a pair of Jamal Murray free throws just over two minutes into the fourth.
After an Anthony Davis triple with 3:03 remaining put Denver back down eight, they again displayed their resilience by mounting yet another comeback. The Nuggets went on a Nikola Jokic-led 11-2 run, punctuated by The Joker backing down Davis with ease, hitting a buttery hook, and putting Denver up one with 20 seconds to go.
On the last possession, Denver broke up Los Angeles’ play and forced the ball into Alex Caruso’s hands, essentially the best possible outcome given the other Lakers on the floor. Despite an offensive rebound following the Caruso miss, Jamal Murray came up huge with a block on Danny Green’s long two to send the ball out of bounds.
Then, AD undid it all. A single stroke from deep flipped the script from a masterful Denver comeback to tie the series, to a heroic buzzer-beater to put Los Angeles up 2-0.
As a team, you’ll live with Davis shooting the three in general. He shot the long-ball at a 33.0 percent clip in the regular season, and while he’s elevated that to 40.0 percent in the playoffs (albeit on just 2.5 attempts per game), it’s certainly not his game.
Even still, you can’t leave a player of that caliber open for the final shot. While game two was far more competitive than the series opener, merely keeping things competitive is a small consolation when a win escapes at the buzzer.
Despite making major strides in Game 2, there’s still room for improvement. Here are three keys for the Nuggets going into Game 3.