Nuggets sweep LeBron James, Lakers in 113-111 Game 4 win, advance to first NBA Finals

LOS ANGELES — Not even an all-time playoff performance from LeBron James could extend the Los Angeles Lakers season.

James had 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, including a playoff career-high for points in a half (31), but that wasn’t enough against the relentless ‒ and better ‒ Denver Nuggets.

The top-seeded Nuggets eliminated the seventh-seeded Lakers with a 113-111 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Monday and made franchise history.

Denver will play the winner of Miami-Boston in the Finals starting June 1.

It is the first time the Nuggets have advanced to the NBA Finals, and it was the first sweep for the franchise. They reached the conference finals five previous times (2020, 2009, 1985, 1978) losing to the Lakers four times.

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This time, it was all Denver. Too much Nikola Jokic. Too much Jamal Murray. Too much of Denver’s starting five that also includes Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone celebrates with the Western Conference trophy after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jokic recorded his third triple-double of the series with 30 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and three blocks. It was his eighth triple-double of the 2023 playoffs, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of seven in the same postseason.

He gave the Nuggets a 113-111 lead with 51.7 seconds left. The Lakers had two chances to tie or take the lead and James missed both attempts, including the game’s final shot.

Murray, who had 37 points in Game 2 and Game 3, scored 25 points, Gordon had 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, Porter contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds and Pope had 13 points.

Behind James 31 first-half points, the Lakers owned a 73-58 halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Nuggets outscored the Lakers 36-16. Jokic had 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block in the quarter.

Down the stretch, the Nuggets executed better than the Lakers, just as they did throughout the series.

The games were close between the Lakers and Nuggets in the West finals.

The series was not.

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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