National Basketball Association
The Lakers avoided a sweep. Can they steal Game 5 in Denver?
National Basketball Association

The Lakers avoided a sweep. Can they steal Game 5 in Denver?

Published Apr. 28, 2024 1:35 p.m. ET

Denver Nuggets center DeAndre Jordan was walking down the hallway when he saw Anthony Davis' father standing outside of the Los Angeles Lakers' locker room. 

Flashing a smile, Jordan approached Anthony Davis Sr. 

"He didn't have to do us like that tonight," Jordan said, as Davis' father laughed. 

With the Lakers trailing their first round playoff series 3-0 and facing elimination, Davis had his third 20-20 performance of the season and his first this postseason, finishing with 25 points and 23 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a 119-108 win in Game 4 at Arena on Saturday. 


The Lakers snapped their 11-game losing streak against the Nuggets and avoided being swept by them in consecutive postseasons, following the Nuggets' swift dismantling of them in the 2023 Western Conference Finals. 

It was a giant relief for Davis, who said he had a bitter taste in his mouth all of last summer. When asked if he had a talk with LeBron James about not allowing that to happen again, he said words weren't necessary. 

"I just think there was a feeling in the room starting in yesterday's film session," Davis said. "It sucks to get swept. Nobody wants that feeling, especially going into the summer. You have to have that feeling for the rest of the summer."

The Lakers might have avoided the embarrassment of the proverbial broom, but they still have an incredibly steep road ahead. No team in NBA history has ever recovered from a 3-0 series deficit. 

Considering the Lakers hadn't beaten the Nuggets in 499 days, mounting that type of a run seems unlikely. That being said, the Lakers did something Saturday that they hadn't been able to do this series: Hold their lead.

The Lakers blew a 12-point advantage in Game 1, a 20-point lead in Game 2 and a 12-point lead in Game 3. Their kryptonite? Third quarters. So, when they led by as much as 13 points in the first half, it seemed as though fans were holding their breath when they took the court again after halftime. 

But the Lakers pushed their advantage to as much as 19 points in the fourth quarter and never trailed. The biggest difference was that Davis and James finally had some help. D'Angelo Russell, who was 0-for-7 in Game 3, had 21 points, four rebounds and four assists. And Austin Reaves poured in 21 points and got six assists.

This series shouldn't be so lopsided as it is, considering the Lakers have led for 136 minutes and 31 seconds, while the Nuggets have only been ahead for 41 minutes and 53 seconds.

Every third quarter except for Saturday, the Lakers have looked discombobulated and stunned that the reigning NBA champions, who have a two-time MVP in Nikola Jokić and a postseason superstar in Jamal Murray, emerge from their locker room with a sense of urgency. 

This time, the Lakers matched their energy, only getting outscored 32-30 in the period that has marked their downfall. Lakers coach Darvin Ham chalked up the difference to focus. 

"Not becoming stagnant," Ham said. "Just continuing with our pace, continuing getting stops. We got a bunch of dominant stops and then we got some timely stops. They hit some tough shots, got some and-ones. And we didn't hang our head."

It would've been a bit of a shame had the Lakers been swept considering James' and Davis' performances these playoffs.

James has continued to defy time, finishing with 30 points in Game 4, including scoring 14 in the fourth quarter. He entered Game 4 averaging 26.3 points, 9.7 assists and 6.7 rebounds this postseason.

As for Davis, he has averaged 30.5 points and a playoff career-high 15.7 rebounds against Jokic this round. And on Saturday, he aggressively attacked the paint, dunking, finessing and using force to impose his will on both ends of the court. 

"I think AD doesn't have to prove anything to anybody," James said. "He's one of the best bigs we have in the game, one of the best bigs in the world. And he's showing that again through the first four games."

Just ask Jordan, who was so impressed by Davis that he had to stop his father in a hallway. 

Meanwhile, Davis' father patiently waited to congratulate his son, who played a career-high 76 games this season and helped shed the injury-prone narrative that has plagued him. 

Now, he has an even greater challenge ahead. 

Whatever happens, at least he'll have a better taste in his mouth after Saturday. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

[Want great stories delivered right to your inbox? Create or log in to your FOX Sports account, follow leagues, teams and players to receive a personalized newsletter daily.]

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience
Anthony Davis
Los Angeles Lakers
National Basketball Association

Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more