Davis, James help Lakers to 3-1 lead

Davis, James help Lakers to 3-1 lead

ORLANDO • Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined for 60 points as the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers seized control of their Western Conference Finals series with a 114-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

James flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Fellow All-Star Davis had 34 points as Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series in the National Basketball Association’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

The Lakers have wrapped up both their previous series in five games and are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since winning the title in 2010.

Canadian forward Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points and eight assists but misfired on all three of his three-point attempts, while Jerami Grant finished with 17 for Denver.

Serbia’s Nikola Jokic was held in check most of the game and finished with a disappointing 16 points. He missed all four field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

James, who had the words “We want justice” written next to Breonna Taylor’s name on his sneaker after it was reported on Wednesday that a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the shooting death of the woman, took it upon himself to guard Murray with the game on the line.

“He’s is one of the hottest guys in the bubble,” said James. “He’s very shifty to guard. I just use my length and athleticism, high hand him and meet him at the basket.”

Denver have dug another big hole in these play-offs and, if they are going to advance to the NBA Finals, they will have to overcome a 3-1 deficit for the third straight series after comebacks against Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 13 points and Rajon Rondo tallied 11 points for the Lakers, who bounced back from Game 3’s loss.

“We played with a lot of energy tonight,” Lakers guard Caldwell-Pope told TNT. “We had a lack of energy starting Game 3… We kept a lead the whole game.”

Rondo finished with seven assists to pass Scottie Pippen for eighth place on the all-time play-off list. He had eight assists in Game 3 to surpass Kobe Bryant.

“This is the Western Conference Finals, Game 4. If you can’t help us on the defensive end, maybe you shouldn’t be on the floor,” said Denver coach Michael Malone.

“We have to be able to lock in, finish with a rebound. We had too many empty possessions tonight.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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