LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It is just a difficult matchup for the Denver Nuggets.
Stop Anthony Davis, and LeBron James will do damage. Stop James, and Davis will do damage.
Davis’ 3-pointer as time expired in the fourth quarter gave the Lakers a 105-103 victory on Sunday in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. Los Angeles now has a 2-0 series lead, with Game 3 on Tuesday (9 ET, TNT).
Davis scored 22 of his game-high 31 points in the second half, and James scored 20 of his 26 points in the first half.
It was not James at his play-making best (just four assists and six turnovers), but he had 11 rebounds and two blocks. Davis added nine rebounds, two blocks and steal.
“The combo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis is just — if one of them is not going, the other one is,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “There was a little bit of that tonight. When they’re both going at the same time, we’re near impossible to stop. Those guys both carried each other throughout the game and obviously a big part of the win.”
Lakers reserve Rajon Rondo, who had the assist to Davis, called the pair options “1A, 1B, doesn’t matter.”
Denver played well enough to win — or at least played well enough give itself a chance to win. The comeback artists from the Rocky Mountains erased a 16-point deficit and took an 87-86 lead with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Denver All-NBA center Nikola Jokic scored seven consecutive points late in the fourth, and his soft hook shot with 20.8 seconds remaining put Denver up 103-102.
The Lakers missed two consecutive jump shots on their next possession. The ball went out of bounds off Denver with 2.1 second left, setting up Davis’ game-winner off an in-bounds pass from Rondo.
“This is the Western Conference finals, so no moral victories, no silver linings,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Gave ourselves a chance to win tonight. Obviously, Anthony Davis hits a big 3 to win the game at the buzzer. We’ll watch the film, see what happened on that last play. The message is we’re down 2-0. Let’s go out and win Game 3.
“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.”
Jokic led the Nuggets with 30 points, nine rebound and six assists, and Jamal Murray scored 25 points.
Jokic and Davis were fantastic in the fourth quarter, trading baskets until no time was left. Jokic scored 12 points in the final quarter, and Davis had 10.
They have LeBron, who is probably the best player in the league, and they have AD, who is probably the best scorer in the league,” Jokic said. “I think it’s not easy to figure them out. They are really talented. We can just make it tough, make them feel uncomfortable. To answer the question, maybe. But they’re really talented. They’re going to find solutions. We just need to kind of stay on top and just make them uncomfortable.”
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.