Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined again as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed a 2-0 series lead over the injury-hit Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Davis posted a double-double and James top-scored in Friday's 124-114 victory against the Heat at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The Heat were without injured stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic in Game 2 following Miami's humbling in the opening game of the NBA showpiece.

Jimmy Butler tried to carry the load for the rallying Heat with 25 points and 13 assists, and while Miami refused to surrender, there was no stopping the high-flying Lakers – who are eyeing their first championship since 2010.

Davis became the third player with at least 30 points in each of his first two career games in the Finals, following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan (1991) and Kevin Durant (2012), after scoring 32 points, per Stats Perform.

Three-time NBA champion James finished with 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

James, who moved up to sixth on the all-time Finals list for games played after making his 51st appearance, also climbed up to fourth for all-time Finals rebounds.

Outclassed in Game 1, there were signs of improvement from the short-handed Heat, who narrowed the margin to as little as four points at one point in the contest.

Kelly Olynyk had 24 points and nine rebounds off the bench, however, the Lakers had too much firepower.

Rajon Rondo was three of four from three-point range for 16 points and 10 assists as a reserve, while Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both contributed 11 points.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said there is no jealousy between himself and Anthony Davis as he hailed the pair's chemistry following Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 

James and Davis led the Lakers to a comprehensive 116-98 victory over the Miami Heat at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday. 

It was a blowout as the top-seeded Lakers led by as many as 32 points, having trailed by 13 early against the Heat, who were outclassed inside the bubble. 

James – making his 10th Finals appearance – had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists as he recorded his 31st double-double in the Finals to move outright fourth in league history. 

Davis, who arrived from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade at the start of the season, posted a game-high 34 points. 

Ahead of Game 2 on Friday, James talked up his dominant partnership with fellow All-Star Davis as the Lakers eye their first championship since 2010.

"We're not jealous of each other," three-time NBA champion James told reporters on Thursday. "I think that's the best thing. In professional sports, you have guys that join forces to become alpha males. 

"That's what they call them. Two guys that have been dominant in a specific sport on their own respective teams, and they get together and they talk about how dominant they can be, and they talk about this is going to be this and that. 

"I believe jealousy creeps in a lot. And that is the absolute contrary of what we are. We know who we are. We know what we're about. We want the best, seriously, every single day, both on and off the floor, for one another. We're just not jealous of one another. I think that you align that with respect, I think the sky's the limit." 

James added: "I just speak for myself. For AD, I know who we are. We respect one another. We drive one another. We command excellence out of one another. And that's what it boils down to. 

"Jealousy and envy has killed a lot of great things, not only in sports but in general. If you're able to just throw that to the side and throw your egos to the side but continue to bring that confidence of what you're trying to do of keeping the main thing the main thing -- not saying it's that easy, but for us it's that easy when it comes to our relationship. 

"Like I said, it doesn't result in wins every night. It doesn't result in me putting up numbers or him putting up numbers every night, but as far as our brotherhood and our chemistry, that's what it boils down to."

LeBron James may be on the Los Angeles Lakers roster but Anthony Davis is the best player in the world, according to team-mate Markieff Morris.

Davis marked his debut in the NBA Finals with a sensational performance in the 116-98 blowout of the Miami Heat in Orlando on Wednesday, putting up 34 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Superstar James was similarly important for the Lakers with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in the Game 1 contest but Morris said Davis' contributions at both end of the court mark him out from the rest.

"It's easy for AD," Morris said in quotes reported by ESPN. "Like I've been saying since I got on this team, honestly, if you ask me...we got LeBron but I think he [Davis] is the best player in the world.

"He [does] it on both ends, he's doing it consistently every night, he gives you what you ask for every night."

Only Allen Iverson (48), Kevin Durant (36) and Michael Jordan (36) have managed to score more points on an NBA Finals bow than Davis since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976-77, while Shaquille O'Neal with 43 and George Mikan with 42 are the only players to score more in their first Lakers Finals game.

"It's a great honour to be in that category with those guys," said Davis.

"I mean, they have done so much for the game, Hall of Famers, and for me to come out and perform that way and be mentioned with those guys, obviously that's a great honour, but I also want to be mentioned in categories with champions, so that's the next step."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James refused to get carried away with his team's blow-out win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, insisting there is much more work to do.

The Lakers humbled the Heat 116-98 in the opening game of the showpiece showdown at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

James' Lakers led by as much as 32 points after trailing by 13 early in Orlando, Florida, where the Heat were no match for the Western Conference top seeds midweek.

Anthony Davis posted a game-high 34 points, while James – making his 10th Finals appearance – had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

Despite outclassing the Heat as the Lakers eye their first championship since 2010, James told reporters: "We have so much more work to do.

"The job is not done. We are not satisfied with winning one game. It's that simple."

"I don't think at the beginning we were physical enough," said three-time NBA champion James, who recorded his 31st career double-double in the Finals to move outright fourth in league history, after the Lakers went on a 75-30 run.

"You have to get a feel for how hard Miami play and I think they smacked us in the mouth. We had a sense of that, so we knew how hard we had to play to make it a game.

"From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities. We started flying around, getting defensive stops, sharing the ball a lot better offensively and got into a really good groove."

Davis produced a huge performance in his first Finals appearance following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the season.

He became the first Lakers player to post 30-plus points in the Finals since Kobe Bryant's 38 in Game 5 of the 2010 Finals.

Davis and James also became the first Lakers duo to each record 25-plus points in the same Finals game since Bryant (33) and Shaquille O'Neal (29) in Game 2 of the 2004 Finals.

"I expect it out of him. I didn't give him any advice. We have been preparing for this moment all season, he has been preparing all season," James said.

"I'm happy to be on the same floor and same uniform as him. Once again, he was a force in every facet of the game, both offensively and defensively."

The NBA Finals are taking place behind closed doors without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic, but James said: "It felt great, I've been preparing for this moment for quite a while.

"Fans or no fans, the inner challenge for myself and the way I prepare myself, it felt amazing to be playing the Finals once again."

Anthony Davis credited Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for helping the Los Angeles Lakers recover from a slow start against the Miami Heat.

Davis (34 points) and LeBron James (25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists) saw the Lakers thrash the Heat 116-98 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

But Miami led 25-12 in the first quarter before Caldwell-Pope hit back-to-back three-pointers for the Lakers, starting a 19-3 run.

Davis said those shots were huge for the Lakers, who are eyeing a first title since 2010.

"We know they're a great team, they're here for a reason. This team plays hard and plays scrappy and they've got a lot of guys who can make plays for them," he told ESPN.

"They came out very hot, we came out slow, KCP saved us. He hit them two big threes in the first quarter and got us going and we kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor so we can't come out like that in Game 2.

"This is a great team, they're here for a reason, if we want to win this series and become champions we have to play better from the start."

The Lakers went 15-of-38 from three-point range and led by as many as 32 points during their win.

Davis praised the Lakers' shooting but also said they needed to improve when holding such a big lead.

"If they're going to give us shots like that, we have got to be able to knock them down. Bron and [Rajon] Rondo and AC [Alex Caruso] is getting in the paint and guys are open for three so we work on our shots every game, working on shots pregame and practice, shootaround," he said.

"Guys have got to be able to make shots and we did that, which got us a good lead.

"We've got to obviously play better with the lead, we can't let guys come in and get too comfortable. We feel like we let Kendrick Nunn come in and get comfortable, obviously he's a talented player, but if we want to win the championship we have to be better.

"Championship mindset for the full 48 minutes, but guys made shots and got us this win."

Anthony Davis and LeBron James starred as the Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Miami Heat 116-98 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

It was a reunion for Lakers superstar James and the Heat, who teamed up for two championships in 2012 and 2013, at Walt Disney World Resort.

The top-seeded Lakers – eyeing their first title since 2010 – put the Heat to the sword after edging the opening quarter 31-28, leading by as many as 32 points, having trailed by 13 early.

James, making his 10th Finals appearance searching for his fourth championship, had a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds to go with nine assists in Orlando, Florida midweek.

The four-time MVP, who missed the playoffs in his first season with the Lakers last term, moved up to fourth on the all-time Finals double-double list.

All-Star team-mate Davis, meanwhile, put up a game-high 34 points to extinguish the Heat in his maiden Finals appearance following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the season.

The Heat, who trumped the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics en route to the showpiece, simply had no answer in the Finals opener.

After a strong start, Jimmy Butler and the Heat were powerless to stop a Lakers masterclass inside the Orlando bubble.

More concerning is the health of three of their stars heading into Game 2 after Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic suffered injuries.

Butler appeared to twist his ankle just seconds before half-time and hobbled off the court, but he played out the game, leading the Heat with 23 points.

Dragic (six points) also hurt his foot and did not return following 15 minutes of action, while star big man Adebayo (eight points) headed to the locker room and did not feature again against the Lakers.

A unique NBA postseason has thrown up an intriguing Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.

With the coronavirus pandemic confining the league to a bubble in Orlando, Florida, there has been no home advantage and no shortage of shocks since the playoffs began last month.

The Lakers - the top seed in the West - have managed to survive with their star power as Anthony Davis helped LeBron James to reach the Finals for a 10th time.

In the East, meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Heat have also gone all the way, dumping out the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks and MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second round.

LA and Miami each dropped just three games en route to this series, which starts with Game 1 on Wednesday, but they have taken contrasting approaches to get here.

Using Stats Perform Data, we take a look.
 

Superstar Lakers

The Lakers were not alone in headlining their roster with two massive names at the start of the season.

As they traded for Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, rivals the Los Angeles Clippers put together a mammoth deal to pair Kawhi Leonard with Paul George. Russell Westbrook joined James Harden at the Houston Rockets.

It would appear clear now the Lakers did the best business as they prepare for the Finals, having eliminated the Rockets in the conference semi-finals.

Almost everything they have done has gone through James or Davis. Four-time MVP James has a 31.5 per cent usage rate in 35 minutes on the floor in this year's playoffs and is averaging almost a triple-double (26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists), while his team-mate has a 29.4 per cent usage rate in 35.9 minutes and 28.8 points per game.

The Rockets rely even more heavily on their stars - Harden has 32.5 per cent of the ball in 37 minutes and Westbrook 31.3 per cent in 33 - but they do not have the same consistency. Against the Lakers, Westbrook shot four-of-15 from the field in Game 2 and four-of-13 in the decisive Game 5.

The Clippers did not even advance to a highly anticipated meeting with the Lakers as George similarly struggled to set the standard, averaging 20.2 points.

George's 10 points contributed to a Game 7 defeat to the Denver Nuggets, yet even their in-form pairing of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray could not match James and Davis, the league's outstanding duo.
 

Deep Heat

Miami will not look to put their own top performers up against James and Davis in the same way. It is the depth of this Heat team that saw them through the East.

They remarkably have six regulars - Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder and Duncan Robinson - averaging 11.0 points or more. Miami are the only team to reach the Finals with such a wealth of scoring options in the past 25 years.

It should come as little surprise to see this production, though, as the Heat - in direct contrast to the Lakers - share the ball around. Of their nine players to make 10 or more playoff appearances this year, seven have a usage rate above 16 per cent. Six have played 27 minutes per game or more.

That provides plenty of opportunity for the fourth or fifth man to steal the show, with Robinson top-scoring in a win against the Indiana Pacers while Herro poured in 37 points in a victory over the Boston Celtics.

Herro's efforts saw him break Dwyane Wade's rookie franchise playoff record - set in a first-round 2004 game - by a whole 10 points. Wade was the team's leading scorer in that postseason; Herro is merely fourth this time.
 

How they match up

So, which approach will come out on top? Well, there are also drawbacks on both sides.

Having bet the house on James and Davis - comfortably their top two earners - the Lakers lack an obvious third option to throw at Miami.

Only Kyle Kuzma (10.5) is averaging more than 10.0 points in the playoffs elsewhere on the roster, while each of the eight players besides James and Davis to play at least 10 games this postseason have a usage rate between 12 and 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Heat have the third largest total salary in the league this season, operating above the luxury tax level, but do not possess a superstar comparable to LA's pair to take the entire series by the scruff of the neck.

Even Butler has a marginally lower points per game (20.9 to 20.7) and usage rate (27.3 per cent to 24.7) than team-mate Dragic. Neither man might at this stage be ranked alongside those big names in the West.

They will need help from Adebayo, Herro and the rest, while Frank Vogel has to hope James and Davis alone have enough to secure silverware.

Regardless of their flaws, the outcome of this matchup will validate more than a year's worth of work for one of these teams.

Anthony Davis wants to finish a crazy year with victory in the NBA Finals as he hailed the resilience of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers and Miami Heat will go head-to-head in the Finals, with Game 1 scheduled for Wednesday at Walt Disney World Resort.

It has been a difficult season for the Lakers, who mourned the death of legendary guard and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant following a helicopter crash in January.

The top-seeded Lakers, like rival teams, have also dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the league to be suspended in March before resuming inside the Orlando bubble in July.

Preparing for his maiden Finals appearance in his first season with the Lakers following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, All-Star Davis told reporters on Tuesday: "It's special.

"It's been a crazy year. For us to continue to be a step closer to our dreams, to reach our goals, it's special.

"I think our team has been through the most this year, and we just kept on pushing, kept on fighting. With everything that's been going on, I kind of think the hiatus was actually good for us. It kind of just let us regroup because we had such a crazy year. The Lakers had such a crazy year.

"Now we want to make sure that we finish this thing off right. Our team is a team that handled adversity this year.

"We've been resilient. And now we feel like it's our jobs to finish the season off the way we wanted to start it, the same way we wanted to start it. We're four wins away from that, and it seems like it's all just come full circle."

It will be a reunion for LeBron James and the Heat in the Finals after the superstar won two championships in 2012 and 2013 during his time in Miami.

James – who also celebrated glory with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 – has the chance to claim a fourth NBA title and Davis said: "He's a guy who obviously when he played against his former teams, he wants to win very bad, very badly, just like everyone else does.

"But to be back in the Finals against Miami I think means a lot more to him winning this than anyone else. I think this championship is probably second behind Cleveland, being able to get this one for him.

"I think this one is going to be a tough one. People said it's going to be the toughest championship in NBA history from a mental standpoint just because of the circumstances. But it's been fun to watch him. He goes to the Finals every year. Win or lose, he always comes back the next year. And to finally get back after last year and go against his former team, I'm pretty sure he's going to have a competitive series."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also hailed James, adding: "He's the best leader I've ever been around, simplest way to put it, in terms of players. We've dealt with a lot, a lot of heavy emotional types of adversity that we've gone through, and he sets a great tone with his example.

"But he is also a great leader from a communicative standpoint, talking to guys, talking to the group about the right mindset to have, to be in certain situations, being the leading voice when things occur where we're all not really sure how to deal with it or what to say. You know, he's been a leading voice in those situations. Just an integral part of our success this year."

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are seeking history as the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for the NBA Finals.

The duo will lead the Lakers into the Finals against one of James' former teams, the Miami Heat, beginning at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

The Lakers are in their first Finals since 2010, while James is bidding to win his fourth championship.

Using Stats Perform data, we assess James and Davis throughout the 2020 playoffs, and see how they compare to greats.

Among the best

James and Davis, unsurprisingly, already stand among the greats thanks to their dominance in this year's playoffs.

The pair have starred as the Lakers brushed past the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, winning each series 4-1.

James has four triple-doubles in the 2020 playoffs, including his stunning performance in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Nuggets as he put up 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.

Davis also got his signature moment against the Nuggets, drilling an incredible buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 2.

While James has averaged 26.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Davis is going at 28.8 and 9.3 respectively.

James and Davis are just the third team-mate duo in history to average 25-plus points per game and seven-plus rebounds per game in the playoffs for a team that reached the NBA Finals.

All three have been Lakers pairs. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West managed it in 1963, although Los Angeles would go on to fall to the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the NBA Finals.

The other duo was Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in 2001. The Lakers rolled through those playoffs without losing a game until the Finals opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, but they responded to win the series 4-1. O'Neal dominated those Finals with 33 points and 15.8 rebounds per game to be named MVP.

It was a dominant era for the Lakers, and a fifth championship in 11 years came in 2010.

Kobe leads another powerful pair

The Lakers are in the NBA Finals for the first time since their incredible run came to an end.

Bryant won his fifth championship and second Finals MVP after a thrilling 4-3 series win over the Celtics. Pau Gasol and Bryant led the Lakers' charge, with the latter the dominant scorer and the former the key rebounder.

Combined, they averaged 48.7 points, 17.1 rebounds and nine assists per game during the 2010 postseason.

They are one of six team-mates to average 48-plus points, 16-plus rebounds and eight-plus assists per game and make the Finals, since the 2001 postseason and having played a minimum of 15 games each.

In the three such cases since 2010, James has been in each. He managed the feat with Kevin Love in 2017 and 2018, but the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the Finals to the Golden State Warriors in both years, having claimed a maiden championship in 2016.

This year, it is James and Davis have managed it, and more history awaits.

The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their first NBA Finals in a decade after LeBron James' triple-double secured a series victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Not since winning their last championship in 2010 had storied franchise the Lakers reached the NBA showpiece.

But James helped end that drought as the top-seeded Lakers topped the Nuggets 117-107 on Saturday to seal a 4-1 series victory in the Western Conference finals.

James posted 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Lakers at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, where he will contest his 10th NBA Finals – the fourth player in history to do so.

It was James' 27th career playoff triple-double as the 35-year-old eyes a fourth championship ring, with the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics awaiting in the Finals.

All-Star team-mate Anthony Davis contributed 27 points for the Lakers, who will make their 32nd Finals appearance.

The third-seeded Nuggets became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series twice in the same postseason en route to the Conference finals.

But they were unable to produce another comeback, despite 20 points apiece from Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant.

Nuggets star Jamal Murray was limited to just 19 points as the Nuggets bowed out of the Orlando bubble.

 

Celtics face Heat

Can the Celtics level the series or will the Heat book their spot in the Finals? The two teams will meet in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, with the Heat leading 3-2.

Anthony Davis provided a positive assessment over the ankle injury he suffered in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, declaring: "I'll be fine."

Davis rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-108 triumph over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, putting them 3-1 up in the best-of-seven series and on the brink of a place in the NBA Finals.

Despite the setback, the 27-year-old still led the Lakers in terms of scoring, contributing 34 points as he played 41 minutes.

Game 5 takes place on Saturday, with Davis confident of being fit for action as Los Angeles aim to close out the Nuggets and progress to the NBA Finals.

"Ankle feels fine," the seven-time All-Star told the media. "Got tonight, tomorrow before the game to get it back to, I don't want to say back to where it was, but good enough to play.

"Rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I'll be fine."

While the Lakers are clearly firmly in control, they will be wary of allowing the Nuggets to climb off the canvas following their heroics in the previous two rounds.

Denver battled back from 3-1 deficits to see off the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, leading Davis to speak out about the dangers of taking anything for granted.

"You know, like I said last game, we've got to put them away," he said. 

"They are going to continue to fight, no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is, we just have to make sure we counter everything they do."

The Lakers have not reached the NBA Finals since 2010, which was also the last time they were crowned champions.

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the cusp of the NBA Finals after holding off Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets 114-108 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

LeBron James and fellow All-Star Anthony Davis led the top-seeded Lakers, who moved 3-1 ahead in the NBA playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday.

James put up 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a performance just shy of a triple-double, while Davis had a game-high 34 points.

There was a worrying moment in the fourth quarter when Davis rolled around in pain after landing on his ankle, but he continued.

Murray dazzled once again in Orlando, Florida, where the Nuggets star posted 32 points and eight rebounds – including a memorable Michael Jordan-esque drive to the basket.

But the Nuggets – who became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series twice in the same postseason en route to the Conference finals – find themselves in a familiar position, down 3-1.

The Lakers' dominance off the boards proved decisive as the Nuggets failed to make a field goal during the last three minutes, 28 seconds – missing their final five attempts.

Now, the Lakers are one win away from their first trip to the NBA Finals since winning their last championship in 2010.

Lakers veteran Dwight Howard finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was limited to just 16 points.

 

Heat face Celtics

The Miami Heat can book their spot in the NBA Finals with victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday.

The Denver Nuggets outlasted an epic Los Angeles Lakers rally to claim Game 3 114-106 in the Western Conference finals.

After a heartbreaking buzzer-beating loss in Game 2, the Nuggets produced a trademark performance of resilience behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic double-doubles to reduce the Lakers' series lead to 2-1 in the NBA playoffs.

The Nuggets looked on track to cruise to victory in the third showdown, having taken a 93-75 lead through three quarters at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

But LeBron James – who tallied a triple-double – and the top-seeded Lakers reeled off a stunning 19-2 run and forced six successive turnovers to close within 101-98 with less than four minutes remaining on Tuesday.

Veteran guard Rajon Rondo was instrumental in the Lakers' fightback courtesy of three steals against the stuttering Nuggets.

But the Nuggets – who became the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a series twice in the same postseason en route to the Conference finals – fended off the Lakers with a run of their own as Murray finished with 28 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.

All-Star big man Jokic posted 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Jerami Grant had a playoff career-high 26 points to help the Nuggets avoid a 3-0 hole.

James led the Lakers with his 26th career triple-double, which included 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Anthony Davis – the last-gasp hero in Game 2 – had 27 points.

 

Celtics face Heat

The Boston Celtics will look to level their series against the Miami Heat when they two teams meet in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.

Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone and center Nikola Jokic took heart from Sunday's 105-103 buzzer-beating defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, with the duo praising the team's spirit.

The Nuggets were heading into the final seconds of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals with a slender lead, but Anthony Davis showed his class with the decisive action.

The Lakers forward sunk a three-pointer on the buzzer to seal the win and open up a 2-0 series lead in Florida, Los Angeles having won handsomely 126-114 in Game 1.

Davis was able to make his game-winning shot due to a defensive mix-up in the Nuggets ranks that saw both Mason Plumlee and Jerami Grant guarding LeBron James when the former was initially on the game-winner.

Jokic put it down to poor communication, though there was a hint of rueful helplessness to his post-game comments as he suggested if Davis had not been decisive, James could have.

"[It was] either going to be him or LeBron [James to have the last shot], so we kind of knew it," Jokic said.

"It just happened, a little bit of miscommunication. I think I had a really good contest, to be honest. I think I was right there.

"As soon as he shot the ball, he shot it really well. Like, I kind of felt it going in. Great players make great shots."

But given his side were 70-54 down in the third quarter, Jokic – who had 30 points and nine assists – felt the Nuggets showed good spirit to get back into the contest.

"I mean, we are here [as] underdogs," he continued. "I mean, we need to fight. That's our only chance. They were up 15 or 16. I don't know how much they were up.

"We could just call it a game and quit. I think we just want to give the fight. Maybe it's going to be 30 points, but fight needs to be there, and effort."

Malone was similarly frustrated but seemed encouraged by the fact the top-seeded Lakers required a last-gasp attempt to take the win.

"Losing sucks, that's the bottom line, losing sucks," he admitted. 

"Some guys like to win, some guys hate to lose. I think we're a group of guys that hate to lose, whether it be by 20-something points in Game 1 or at the buzzer tonight, it counts as the same.

"The only thing you can talk about tonight is we were in the game. They had to rely on a great shot by a great player to beat us at the buzzer.

"But as long as we're putting ourselves in position to win games, that's all you can ask for. One thing I know about our group, even though we are disappointed, frustrated, angry, we'll use that motivation to come out and try to take Game 3."

LeBron James hailed Anthony Davis' belief and was glad his Los Angeles Lakers team-mate got his moment against the Denver Nuggets.

Davis hit an incredible buzzer-beating three as the top-seeded Lakers edged the Nuggets 105-103 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The forward missed a similar shot in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in March, but he delivered in a big way against the Nuggets.

James said Davis' belief was key as the 27-year-old hit the biggest shot of his career in the NBA playoffs.

"It's not about making a shot. It's about having a belief of just taking it, for one, and living with the result," he told reporters.

"I think right back to our game right before COVID hit. We played Brooklyn at home and he had a similar shot right on that left wing in front of their bench to win the game and he missed it. He was down on himself, but at the end of the day, I told him, if you're open, and I was able to drive that particular game and find him wide open and he just missed it.

"But it's just the confidence to take the shot. You're not going to make them all, but the belief to just take it and live with the results is what it's all about.

"Tonight was his moment. Tonight was his moment to find a space, hunt the ball down and one of our top-10 assists leaders, [Rajon] Rondo, found him and he knocked it down. A big-time play."

Davis finished with 31 points and nine rebounds, while James posted a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.

After arriving from the New Orleans Pelicans last year, Davis has embraced the pressure for the Lakers and James said he would be the first to remind the seven-time All-Star of just how good he was.

"It's about the work that you put in and the belief in yourself. It's not about the doubters or the naysayers or the people who are going to try to talk to you and slander you and bring you down every single day. It's not about them because they have never been in the arena. They don't understand," James said.

"AD, he knows how special he is and when he doesn't, I'll be the first one to tell him how special he is. He wanted to be here. I'm happy he wanted to be here, because if he didn't, we wouldn't have a moment like tonight. That's what it's all about.

"You put that pressure on yourself when you don't really care what other people think, because what other people think doesn't really matter because they don't understand. Anybody can talk from outside, but if they got into the ring or they got into the arena, probably 10 times out of 10, they s*** their pants."

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