Lakers edge Nuggets for 2-0 lead in NBA Western Conference finals

Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis shoots between Denver Nuggets' PJ Dozier, left, and Nikola Jokic (15) during Game 2 of their NBA conference final playoff basketball game on Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Updated 21 September 2020

Lakers edge Nuggets for 2-0 lead in NBA Western Conference finals

  • Anthony Davis made a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Lakers a 2-point win
  • Game 3 is on Tuesday night

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Anthony Davis made a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Davis finished with 31 points. He scored Los Angeles’ last 10 points and had 22 in the second half to help the Lakers avoid becoming the latest victim of a Denver comeback.
The Nuggets had trailed by as much as 16, but Nikola Jokic scored 11 straight Denver points down the stretch, including a basket that made it 103-102 with 20 seconds to play.
Alex Caruso then missed a 3-pointer and Jamal Murray blocked Danny Green’s shot out of bounds with 2.1 seconds to play. Rajon Rondo inbounded under the basket and found Davis curling toward the sideline, and the All-Star forward swished it to put the Lakers halfway to the NBA Finals.
LeBron James had 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers.
Jokic had 30 points and nine assists, and Murray scored 25 points.
Game 3 is Tuesday night.
James carried the Lakers early, with 20 points in the first half. But they went more in the second half to Davis, who had 37 in an easy Game 1 victory.
This one was much tighter and appeared it would be another huge rally by the Nuggets, who were down 16, 19 and 12 in the final three games against the Clippers, when they erased a 3-1 deficit.
They had climbed all the way out this hole when Murray scored for an 87-86 lead with 7:26 to play. But Green and Rondo hit 3-pointers and, after a basket by PJ Dozier, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made another 3 to make it 95-89.
It was 100-92 after another 3 by Davis before Jokic answered with nine straight, tipping in a miss by Murray to give Denver a 101-100 edge with 31 seconds to play. Davis put the Lakers back on top with a basket in the lane, but Jokic backed him down on the other end to put the Nuggets back on top with 20 seconds remaining.
James started 5 of 6 while the rest of the Lakers missed their first 12 shots before Green’s layup 7 1/2 minutes in gave them a 14-12 lead.
The lead was five midway through the second quarter before the Lakers had an 11-0 run that featured a steal and dunk and a 3-pointer by Alex Caruso that pushed it to 52-36 with about 4 minutes remaining in the half. Denver trimmed it to 60-50 at the break.

TIP-INS
Nuggets: Denver is 8-8 in this postseason. ... Michael Porter Jr. had 15 points. ... Dozier was 1 for 5 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Lakers: Los Angeles missed nine of its first 10 shots. ... Green and Caldwell-Pope both scored 11 points.

BUZZER BEATERS
The Lakers said Davis was just the seventh Laker to make a buzzer-beater in the playoffs, a list that includes playoffs. Also on the list: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Metta World Peace.

THROUGH THIRTY
This was the 30th postseason game between the Lakers and Nuggets. The Lakers lead 23-7 and have won all six series.


Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

Updated 20 October 2020

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

  • Barca have not won since 2015, but since then have never embarked on a new campaign amid so much disarray

MADRID: Despite managing to hang onto Lionel Messi, Barcelona begin its Champions League campaign with reduced expectations after one of their worst seasons in years.
The Catalan club appears to lack its confidence from previous seasons following an embarrassing elimination to Bayern Munich and a troubled off-season in which it nearly lost its talisman.

“Knowing what happened recently, we are not the top favorite,” coach Ronald Koeman said on Monday ahead of the team's debut in this season's competition against Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “But we are a team that can go far.”

Koeman arrived to put Barcelona back on track shortly after the 8-2 collapse against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which capped their first season without a title since 2007-08.

“Barcelona always plays to win titles, in the league and in Europe, but there are other strong teams,” Koeman said.

Barcelona have not  won the Champions League since 2015, but since then they had never embarked on a new campaign in the competition amid so much disarray.

The club avoided losing Messi after he said he wanted to leave, but it continued to endure political turmoil and even financial difficulties. President Josep Bartomeu is facing a censure motion that could force him to leave his post before the end of the year.

Koeman was given the task of revamping the first team, and he quickly got rid of veterans such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, but the club failed to bring in any of the players he wanted in the transfer window.

Koeman said Messi is fine despite scoring just once so far this season.

“Maybe his performance could be better, but I see him happy,” Koeman said. “I see him training well and focused. I have nothing to complain about him in that sense.”

He said “a bit of bad luck” has played a role in keeping the Argentina star from scoring more goals so far. Koeman also downplayed criticism of Antoine Griezmann for his recent poor performances, though he admitted that “everyone in the attack” can improve.

Barcelona opened the Spanish league with two convincing wins under Koeman, but then it drew 1-1 with Sevilla at home and lost 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

Hungarian champions Ferencvaros return to the Champions League for the first time since 1995. They needed to get through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.

The other Group G teams are Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv.

“We want to start with the right foot,” Koeman said. “We want to win the match and gain tranquility.”