When the Los Angeles Lakers took a 16-point lead with 8:12 left in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets, it seemed like they would cruise to a victory, similar to Game 1.
But the Nuggets kept playing, cutting the Los Angeles lead to 82-78 entering the fourth quarter. After a Nikola Jokic hook shot, Denver took a one-point lead with one possession to defend.
Anthony Davis’ buzzer-beater gave the Lakers a 105-103 win to take a 2-0 series lead, but it was quite a way to get to the end. Our experts submit their takeaways after two games between the Nuggets and Lakers.
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He would use Davis and James as a sounding board on all free agent decisions.
“We were doing constant calls about, ‘What do you think of this or this player?'” Davis told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin before the season started. “Rob was almost like a stalking girlfriend. He was an agent, so he’s played both sides. He knows that in order for stuff to work, the players have to be involved. And he tried to make sure that LeBron and I were involved as much as possible. During free agency, every decision I got a text or a call, even just two minutes, ‘Look, this is going on. … How do you feel? OK, cool.'”
The $32 million in cap space that was designed for Leonard was used to sign Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee. Veterans Rajon Rondo and Jared Dudley signed for the veteran minimum exception. Former Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard came on board for a non-guaranteed minimum contract.
In February, the final signing came when Markieff Morris agreed to give back all of his 2020-21 salary ($4.2 million) with the Detroit Pistons to sign with the Lakers.
A year after being a punchline, the team that Pelinka built is now two games away from the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
— Bobby Marks