NBA

Lakers will 'play 'til the wheels fall off', vows LeBron James

By Sports Desk April 26, 2024

LeBron James has urged the Los Angeles Lakers to deal with the pressure, and thrive under it, as they aim to avoid a series sweep against the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers slumped to a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against the reigning NBA champions following a 112-105 loss on Thursday.

Denver have now won 11 straight games against the Lakers, who squandered a big lead in Game 2 and were no match for the Nuggets in Game 3, with Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon in fine form.

James had 26 points and Anthony Davis had 33 for the Lakers, but Los Angeles went just 5 of 27 from the floor and missed 15 of their first 16 3-pointers.

Defeat means the Lakers will have to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a 0-3 playoff deficit to keep their postseason alive. 

James, though, laid down the gauntlet for his teammates.

"It's one game at a time, at this point. You lose, you go home. You come out with the mindset, 'Let's get one, force a Game 5, and then we go from there,'" James said.

"As long as you still have life, then you obviously have belief. I just think you play 'til the wheels fall off. That's what it's always about for me.

"That's a mindset, and I know [Davis] feels the same way.

"You're supposed to have anxiety and pressure, or feel the pressure.

"That's what it's about. This is what the postseason is about.

"Me and this guy [Davis], have been playing together for six years. We've been to the mountaintop. We've been close to the mountaintop. We've played a lot of games.

"We know what it takes to win. We know what it takes to win a championship and how damn near perfect you got to be. That's not like something that's so crazy to obtain."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham came under criticism from some fans following the Game 3 loss, but he paid credit to the Nuggets.

"They have a championship confidence," he said.

"That starting group has been together for a long time. Their net rating is off the charts as a starting group. They had guys step up and make plays."

The Nuggets are taking nothing for granted.

"I think every game is tougher and tougher," Jokic said.

"They were up 20 in Denver; they were up 12 today in the first half. I think it's really hard to play against the same team over again.

"You can't get bored with the style of the play or whatever. You just need to keep doing you, especially for us - because we won the last three - and just trust what we are doing and don't get bored with success because it can go wrong really quick."

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