Nuggets’ Murray makes game-winner as Lakers collapse in Game 2

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers blow a 20-point second half lead as the Denver Nuggets beat the Lakers for a 10th straight time to take a 2-0 series lead.

DENVER — What a shot. And what a meltdown.

The Lakers squandered a 20-point lead in the third quarter and watched Nuggets forward Jamal Murray hit a fadeaway jumper with no time left, lifting Denver to a 101-99 victory on Monday night at Ball Arena.

That win gave the Nuggets a 2-0 series lead with Game 3 set for 7 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles.

LeBron James made back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Lakers an 89-81 lead. But the Nuggets powered back as Michael Porter, Jr. was able to tie the game at 95-95 off a broken play.

After Murray made a mid-range jumper to tie the game at 99-99, James was able to get open for a three. He missed and it led to that game-winner by Murray, who made the shot over Anthony Davis’ outstretched arm and falling into his bench full of teammates.

Everything looked great for the Lakers until midway through the third quarter. D’Angelo Russell was under scrutiny yet again after he shot badly in Game 1, bouncing back to make seven 3-pointers on his way to 23 points.

Davis looked unstoppable, making 14 of his first 15 shots and finishing with 32 points. LeBron James tried to take it home as he scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth.

But it wasn’t enough against the Nuggets, whose victory seemed inevitable during the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets stayed the course even when they got down. Nikola Jokic produced a triple-double (20 rebounds to go along with 27 points and 10 assists). Jamal Murray was missing shots early but he caught fire in the fourth, scoring 14 of his 20 points . When these two stars struggled, Denver was kept afloat by Michael Porter Jr. (22 points) and Aaron Gordon (14 points).

The Nuggets have beaten the Lakers 10 straight times as the series shifts to Los Angeles for the next two games.

The Lakers return to LA knowing this could have been a 1-1 series. Instead, Murray’s jumper will haunt them for the next few days and possibly for the rest of the series.