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Monday, June 24, 2024

Lakers, James eliminated from NBA playoffs after Denver loss

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Los Angeles, United States—LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers crashed out of the NBA playoffs on Monday after defending champions Denver snatched a 108-106 victory to complete a 4-1 series triumph.

Jamal Murray scored 32 points, including a decisive go-ahead jump shot with four seconds remaining, to send Denver into a Western Conference semi-final against Minnesota.

The Lakers, bidding to become the first team in NBA playoff history to overturn a 3-0 series deficit, had looked poised to force a game six back in Los Angeles after a gutsy display saw them edge nine points clear in the third quarter.

But Denver showed their superb championship pedigree once again down the stretch and it was Murray, who applied the coup de grace in a frantic finale, coolly running down the clock before draining the winning basket.

NBA icon James, meanwhile, finished with 30 points to lead the Lakers’ scoring with 11 assists and nine rebounds.

Lakers defensive stalwart Anthony Davis, who appeared troubled by a shoulder injury for much of the game, had 17 points with 15 rebounds and four assists.

But the Lakers were ultimately outperformed by Denver’s greater offensive potency and defensive strength.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic backed up Murray with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists, while Michael Porter Jr. had 26 points including five three-pointers.

The normally accurate Lakers were also left to rue nine missed free throws, including four in the fourth quarter, that proved costly.

“It’s one of those games man, they’re a hell of a team,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said after the defeat.

“They’re defending champs for a reason, I’ve been saying it the entire year, and the entire series, they know how to gut out wins, they’ve been there before.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of our group. Our guys showed a lot of guts, a lot of character and resilience to continue to fight.

“But you know, the intangibles, they got us again. We missed some free throws and gave up some second-chance points late. It is what it is. You just got to learn from it and grow and come back better mentally, spiritually and physically.”

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