DENVER, Colorado – Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4-0 in the Western Conference finals. Nikola Jokic outperformed LeBron James in the process, advancing the team to its first NBA Finals.
With a 113 to 111 victory over James and the Lakers at the Crypto.com Arena, Jokic—a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player—helped the Nuggets erase a 15-point halftime deficit and knock the Lakers out of the playoffs.
James had appeared to be the only player keeping the Lakers’ season alive after scoring 31 points in a spectacular first-half performance that gave the 17-time NBA champs a 73-58 advantage at the break.
Jokic, however, was the driving force behind the Nuggets’ comeback third-quarter attack, scoring 13 points as the top seeds of the Western Conference beat the Lakers 36 to 16 to completely change the course of the game.
With only four seconds remaining, James had one more opportunity to level the score and force OT, but Aaron Gordon of Denver rejected James’ attempted driving floater, allowing the Nuggets to celebrate a historic victory.
As his most recent attempt to capture his fifth NBA championship failed, a heartbroken LeBron immediately departed the court.
James later gave a cryptic answer to a question regarding his future during a post-game press conference, and an ESPN article claimed he was thinking about retiring.
One of the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics will be Denver’s opponents in the NBA Finals. Denver is one of 11 clubs in the league without an NBA title.
Miami, who leads Boston 30, can seal a spot in the championship game with a win at home on Tuesday.
Jamal Murray contributed 25 points, while Jokic finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists. The depth and balance of the team were demonstrated by the fact that all of Denver’s starters finished with double-digit point totals.
After another composed all-around effort proved to be too much for the Lakers, the Nuggets will go into the finals full of optimism that they will end their nearly 50-year wait for a first NBA championship.
LeBron, the standout player for the Los Angeles Lakers, later referred to Denver as the best team he had faced since moving to Los Angeles five years prior.
LeBron, 38, led the Lakers to victory with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists in a valiant effort to extend the series.
But the Lakers’ supporting cast once again fell short at crucial moments, as seen by a string of missed shots in the fourth quarter that allowed the Nuggets to maintain their slim lead and secure victory.
Darvin Ham, the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, said his team had paid a price for not making enough shots while complimenting Denver’s ruthlessness in the closing minutes.
Meanwhile, After the Lakers’ NBA playoff elimination, LeBron James is considering retiring
LeBron James, number six for the Los Angeles Lakers, reacts before match four of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets.
Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ thrashing by the Denver Nuggets on Monday in the NBA playoffs, LeBron James is allegedly thinking about retiring from basketball.
The 38-year-old was said to be considering “walking away” from the game after the Lakers’ loss ended his 20th season in the league, according to ESPN.
James’ retirement was “under consideration,” according to a different tweet from TNT reporter Chris Haynes, who cited league sources.
In a cryptic post-game press conference, LeBron himself added gasoline to the fire over his future by announcing that he will take some time to consider the next phase of his career after the Lakers’ ouster.
In August of last year, James and the Lakers agreed to a two-year extension of his deal, keeping him with the team until the 2024 to 2025 campaign.
His son Bronny James, who will play collegiate basketball at the University of Southern California next season and might perhaps make his NBA debut in time for the 2024–2025 season, has long claimed that he wants to keep playing so that they can face off against or play with each other.