Lakers Put Denver in Familiar Spot
If the Denver Nuggets are going to advance to the NBA Finals, they are going to have to pull off another miracle.
The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from a Game 3 loss to win Game 4, 114-108, taking a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Here are the key takeaways from Thursday's Game 4:
1. LeBron dominates – from the line
Through the first three games of the series, King James had found himself at the free throw line only 10 times, and only twice in Game 3.
That wasn't enough for the Lakers, who voiced their complaints to the league that James wasn't being rewarded with fouls when taking contact from the Nuggets.
That changed in a major way in Game 4.
James made it to the free throw line four times in just the first quarter, en route to an 11-for-14 shooting performance from the charity stripe.
The Nuggets attempted 21 more free throws than the Lakers in the past two games, but in Game 4, behind James' aggressiveness, the Lakers attempted 12 more free throws than Denver.
2. Back to the basics
Throughout the regular season, the Lakers were known for their size and imposing their will in the paint, but in Game 3, Denver outrebounded the Lakers by 19.
Anthony Davis only had 2 rebounds, while Dwight Howard and Javale McGee combined for 2 rebounds between them.
The Lakers reversed that trend in a major way in Game 4, outrebounding Denver 41-33, largely behind the play of Howard, who found himself in a new role tonight.
The former 3-time Defensive Player of the Year recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone, helping to set the tone for the Lakers.
This was his first playoff double-double in three years.
This was also Howard's fourth game scoring double figures in the playoffs and the Lakers are now 4-0 in those games.
3. Can Denver do it again?
The Nuggets found themselves down 3-1 in the first two rounds before becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit twice in a single postseason.
Now, they will have to try to make history again, against a player who has never blown a 3-1 lead.
James himself is responsible for the most famous 3-1 comeback in league history, storming back to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
If the Nuggets are going to advance to the NBA Finals, they will have to give James a taste of his own medicine.