Anthony Davis may have ultimately torn the heart out of the Denver Nuggets, drilling a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer on Sunday to give his Los Angeles Lakers a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored his team’s final 12 points, capped by a baby hook that gave Denver a one-point lead with 20.8 seconds left. But a wild final possession that saw three game-winning attempts from the Lakers ended with a clutch Davis triple and a 105-103 triumph that dug Denver another deep hole. It was the first playoff game-winning buzzer-beater for a trailing Lakers team since Kobe Bryant’s in 2006.
The Lakers were sporting their Mamba jerseys in honor of Bryant’s passing earlier this year, and Davis confirmed to reporters after the win that he screamed “KOBE!” as he celebrated his own signature moment.
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“We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “There are certain games where we’re going to feel it a little bit more than others.
When we have that uniform on, we feel it more, and that’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. AD flying to the wing, catch and shoot with a game on the line in the biggest moment of the season, nothing but net? That’s a Mamba shot.”
“The one thing I wish AD had with that shot he made, I wish we were playing at Staples,” Lakers star LeBron James added. “We miss our fans so much, and I can only imagine it probably would have blown the roof off Staples Center, AD hitting that shot with our crowd. I would’ve loved for him to have that moment.”
The Nuggets played with the same desperation that served them in a pair of 3-1 series comebacks versus the Utah Jazz and L.A. Clippers in previous rounds, only this time their comeback fell heartbreakingly short.
They must find that resuscitative energy once again, now after the most crippling loss of a dramatic playoff run. And they will have to do it opposite Davis and James, who traded halves torching Denver on Sunday.
James scored 12 of his 26 points in the opening quarter, staking the Lakers to an early double-digit lead, and Davis scored 12 of his 31 points in the third quarter, expanding that lead to as much as 16 points.
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