Gordon And Jokic Lead Nuggets to Brink of Sweep Against Lakers

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during the first half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis).

LOS ANGELES (AP) — With one championship ring and a tenacious veteran core, the Denver Nuggets are a daunting matchup for any opponent in the NBA.

They’re a particular nightmare for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who are one game away from an early summer after Denver stretched their winning streak in this lopsided rivalry to a whopping 11 games.

Aaron Gordon had a playoff career-high 29 points and 15 rebounds, Nikola Jokic added 24 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, and the Nuggets moved to the brink of the second round with a 112-105 victory over the Lakers in Game 3 of their first-round series Thursday night.

Jamal Murray scored 22 points to help the defending NBA champion Nuggets win their seventh straight playoff meeting with James and the Lakers in dominating style. Denver has rallied from a double-digit deficit in all three games, and the Nuggets went out of their way after Game 3 to praise an opponent they’ve utterly dominated recently.

“I think every game is tougher and tougher,” Jokic said. “They were up 20 in Denver, they were up 12 today in the first half, but I think it’s really hard to play against the same team over and over again. … That’s a really tough team, and every game is really interesting and tough to win. Every game we’re playing catch-up, and they’re talented. It’s really hard to close a team out.”

Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points for Denver, which took control in the third quarter and cruised through the final minutes to their fifth straight road win over Los Angeles, starting with their sweep of last season’s Western Conference finals.

Game 4 is Saturday night in Los Angeles. No NBA team has ever rallied from a 0-3 playoff deficit.

Anthony Davis had 33 points and 15 rebounds, and James added 26 points and nine assists for the Lakers, who haven’t beaten the Nuggets since Dec. 16, 2022 — and have rarely looked capable of ending that streak.

“You come out with the mindset, ‘Let’s get one, force a Game 5, and then we go from there,’” James said. “As long as you still have life, then you have belief. I just think you play ’til the wheels fall off. That’s what it’s always about for me. That’s a mindset, and I know (Davis) feels the same way.”


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 31 points and 14 rebounds, Jalen Suggs added 24 points and the Orlando Magic handed the Cleveland Cavaliers the worst playoff loss in franchise history, winning 121-83 on Thursday night to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Franz Wagner finished with 16 points and eight assists for the Magic, who led by 43 points in the fourth quarter on the way to the third-largest margin of victory in a playoff game. They earned their first playoff victory since 2019 and the first on their home floor since April 26, 2011.

They can even the series with a victory at home on Sunday.

Jarrett Allen had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot 39% from the field and 23.5% from 3-point range. Caris LeVert added 15 points and Donovan Mitchell had 13 points and seven assists.

76ERS 125, KNICKS 114

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid scored 50 points, making all four 3-point attempts and scoring 18 in a potential series-shifting third quarter to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a win over New York Knicks in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Embiid boldly stated “We’re going to win this series” after the 76ers dropped Game 2.

With one of the finest postseason efforts of his career, Embiid became the third player to ever score 50 points against the Knicks in the postseason and kept the hope of a Philadelphia series comeback very much alive.

The Knicks lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

Embiid was 13 of 19 from the floor overall, made 19 of 21 free throws and hit five 3-pointers.

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