The win put the Nuggets in a favorable position, as they were just one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in team history.
Murray’s incredible shooting display in the first half played a crucial role in Denver’s victory. With a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals, the Nuggets were in good shape to advance to the NBA Finals.
After picking up back-to-back wins at home in Games 1 and 2, Denver delivered a performance of ruthless precision to dispatch LeBron James and the 17-time champion Lakers to the Crypto.com Arena.
Murray finished with 37 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Nikola Jokic added 24 points — including 15 in the fourth quarter — to lead Denver to victory.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points while james and Austin Reaves added 23 points each.
A typically star-studded crowd with the likes of Hollywood actors Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington sitting courtside was unable to inspire the Lakers, who now must win Game 4 on Monday to avoid a clean sweep.
The Nuggets took control with a dominating performance in the first quarter that saw Murray pick up where he left off in Game 2 with another devastating shooting clinic.
Murray, who scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of Denver’s second win Thursday, scored 17 points in the first Saturday in a dream start for the Nuggets.
While Los Angeles managed to contain Jokic effectively, the Lakers had no response to Murray, who was eight of 10 from the field as the Nuggets took a double-digit lead.
Murray’s early hit rate was higher than the entire Lakers roster combined, with the hosts shooting just 7 of 23 in the first quarter.
Lonnie Walker managed to cut the Nuggets’ lead to 10 points at 30-20 with a three-pointer late in the first quarter, but rightfully Murray responded for Denver with a deft fadeaway that made it 32 -20 to the buzzer.
The Lakers came back strong in the second, however, opening with a 10-4 run that cut Denver’s lead to six points.
As Murray continued to threaten, draining a three-pointer to restore Denver’s double-digit lead to 51-41, the Lakers refused to turn around.
Reaves brought the hosts within five with a superb driving lay-up that made it 55-50 and soon after drew a foul from Jokic who sent him over the free-throw line to level it at 55-55.
The Nuggets restored their advantage in the dying seconds of the first half, however, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope draining a corner three to make it 58-55 at the break.
An attritional third quarter saw Denver struggle to generate the offensive fluidity that marked their first half, and an out-and-out Jokic was substituted after committing his fourth foul seven minutes from the end of the quarter.
Despite missing the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t capitalize on his absence. The Denver Nuggets entered the final frame with a slim 84-82 lead.
When Nikola Jokic returned to the game early in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets regained control and showed their dominance again. They managed to score consistently which allowed them to pull away and earn a convincing win over the Lakers.
The win put the Nuggets in a dominant position in the series, underscoring their strength as a team.
(With contributions from agencies)