LeBron still believes as Lakers head for play-off exit

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (second right) vies for a rebound against Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown (left) and guard Christian Braun (right) in the second half of game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference final series in Los Angeles on Saturday.(Photo: AP)

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — LeBron James refused to concede defeat on Saturday after the Los Angeles Lakers slumped to a play-off loss to Denver that leaves them needing to rewrite history to reach the NBA Finals.

Denver are within one game of securing a finals berth for the first time in franchise history after a clinical 119-108 defeat of the Lakers in Los Angeles that leaves them 3-0 up in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals series.

In the history of the NBA no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the play-offs.

James, however, insisted the Lakers could turn around the series, starting with a win in game four on Monday.

Asked if “belief” was still present in the Lakers locker room James replied: “It should be. I hope so.

“I can’t speak for the guys right now because I don’t know what’s going on through all their minds right now, but I still do.”

James said he would use the possibility of rewriting history and leading the Lakers back from the brink as a motivator.

“That’s the only mindset for me, for sure,” he said.

James says that his message to teammates for the remainder of the series would be “just one at a time”.

“Just focus on game four and, you know, that’s all you can really think about,” he said. “Obviously this game is over and done with. We had some opportunities but we didn’t come through so just get ready for Monday and [we’ve] just got to get one.

“It’s a one-game series for us. Every game counts.”

Denver Nuggets (53-29, first in the Western Conference) vs Los Angeles Lakers (43-39, seventh in the Western Conference) Los Angeles; Monday 6:30 pm

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NBA LINE: Lakers -3.5; over/under is 224.5

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: Nuggets lead series 3-0.


The Denver Nuggets look to clinch the series over the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets beat the Lakers 119-108 in the last meeting. Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 37 points and Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points.

The Lakers are 27-25 in Western Conference games. Los Angeles is fourth in the league with 16.6 fast break points per game, led by LeBron James averaging 6.1.

The Nuggets are 34-18 in Western Conference play. Denver has a 7-6 record in one-possession games.

The 117.2 points per game the Lakers score are 4.7 more points than the Nuggets allow (112.5). The Nuggets average 115.8 points per game, 0.8 fewer than the 116.6 the Lakers give up to opponents. This year the Lakers average 11.2 made three-pointers per game at home and 10.3 on the road (making 35.4 per cent from deep in home games compared to 33.8 per cent on the road). The Nuggets drain more three-pointers per game at home (12.4) than on the road (11.3), and have a higher three-point percentage at home (39.0 per cent) than on the road (36.7 per cent).


Davis is averaging 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and two blocks for the Lakers. James is averaging 24.1 points over the last 10 games for Los Angeles.

Nikola Jokic is averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 assists for the Nuggets. Murray is averaging 28.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, six assists, and 1.9 steals over the last 10 games for Denver.


Lakers: 5-5, averaging 113.8 points, 43.0 rebounds, 26.4 assists, 6.8 steals and 5.8 blocks per game while shooting 48.4 per cent from the field. Their opponents have averaged 110.3 points per game. Nuggets: 8-2, averaging 117.4 points, 44.6 rebounds, 26.0 assists, 7.7 steals, and 3.6 blocks per game while shooting 48.7 per cent from the field. Their opponents have averaged 109.2 points.


Lakers: Mo Bamba out (ankle)

Nuggets: None listed

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