NBA: Nuggets win Game 5 in Denver; dump Lakers out of playoffs with 4-1 series win

NBA: Nuggets win Game 5 in Denver; dump Lakers out of playoffs with 4-1 series win

The Denver Nuggets had set the precedent on how they wanted their Western Conference playoff first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers to go, and all they did in Game 5 on Monday night was to put the series to bed in front of their home fans.

However, it wasn’t all rosy, as the defending champions had to work extremely hard to see off the Lakers 108-106 at Ball Arena to seal a 4-1 win and complete a gentlemanly sweep in their playoff series.

Jamal Murray, who was a doubt for the game, finished with a game-high 32 points, including hitting the game-winner to put Denver up by two with 3.6 seconds left on the clock.

The 27-year-old, who hit his second game-winner in the series, having given the Nuggets the win in Game 2 on home turf, provided seven assists and shot 5-of-10 from the three-point line.

“Those are shots that you dream of as a little kid,” said Murray on his game-winning play. “Shout-out to the Lakers, they gave us a great series.

“I came in a little earlier today to see if I was going to be able to go, and I felt like I could and they just didn’t want me to risk it,” revealed Murray, who warmed up with an ice pack strapped to his injured calf.

“They told me no. They told me no. And I didn’t say no. I didn’t want to leave my teammates out there. We’ve been battling all season. Everybody’s hurt at some point, everybody’s going through something and I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I wasn’t able to play this game.

”I’m just glad they listened to me – and listened to me listening to my body – and just trusting me with it,” he added.

Nikola Jokic was one dime shy of reaching his 19th career playoff triple-double, finishing with 25 points, 20 rebounds, and nine assists. Michael Porter Jr. scored 26 points and hit five 3s.

The Nuggets, who swept Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals in the playoff last season, needed to work a bit more this time around as they got their 12th win in 13 games against the Lakers.

LeBron James, who has been eliminated in the first round for just the second time in his illustrious career, suffered his earliest exit from the playoff, having lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games in 2021. He was one board shy of a triple-double as he finished with 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 11 assists.

“First of all, tip your hat to them,” James said. “Defending champions. They’re great team. Super-well coached and made the plays down the stretch to win the series. You give credit where credit is due, that’s for sure.”

Anthony Davis had his lowest output in the series with a 17-point and 15-rebound double-double; Austin Reaves poured in 19 points; Rui Hachimura scored 15; and D’Angelo Russell added 14 points and shot 2-of-10 from beyond the arc for the Lakers, who had all of their starters in double figures.

In the second round, the Nuggets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who swept the Suns, in the West semifinals. That series, which kicks off at the weekend, will start in Denver, with the Nuggets holding homecourt advantage.

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