The Western Conference Finals series is now 2-1 in favor of the Los Angeles Lakers after the Denver Nuggets secured their first win of the series Tuesday night. The final score was 114-106, but the game was much more lopsided than the final indicates as the Lakers made a furious comeback in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets extended their lead to as much as 18 at multiple points in the first three quarters, as Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Jerami Grant made a huge imprint on this series with their dominant performances.
Game three really changed the mood of Lakers fans, as we had plenty to be happy for up until this point with the dominant 126-114 victory in game one and the amazing Anthony Davis game-winner in game two. The good vibes are now gone as game three revealed that the thought lingering in Lakers fans’ brains — that the Lakers were extremely lucky to win game two — was true. The Nuggets outscored the Lakers in five straight quarters beginning with the third quarter of game two before the Lakers outscored the Nuggets 31-21 in the final frame on Tuesday to make things interesting.
This has surely changed the perceptions of the actual Lakers’ players and staff, as they were riding high during game one and the early moments of game two. Amidst those fun times being had by the Lakers’ players, there was a higher-than-usual amount of trash talk coming from the purple-and-gold; you could sense that they felt they had immense control of this series. Dwight Howard has been the Lakers’ most notorious agitator, taking this Western Conference Finals opportunity to try and make his mark on the series by bothering superstar big man Nikola Jokic on and off the court. Howard remarked after game one that he wanted Jokic to always be aware of his presence, and he apparently truly meant that by taking the antics to the area of the Lakers and Nuggets practices. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that on Saturday, Howard passed the area where Jamal Murray was about to do a media session, when the following exchange took place:
“Don’t do that, fam,” Murray said to Howard, with both men smiling.
“What?” Howard said.
“Don’t do that, fam,” Murray said again.
“Where’s Joker at?” Howard replied. “Where’s his room?”
Dwight Howard hasn’t been the only one trying to subtlely get in the Nuggets’ heads. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports details JaVale McGee and Howard yelling from the Lakers’ bench late in the first quarter of Game 2.
Late in the first quarter of the Lakers’ Western Conference finals Game 2 victory on Sunday, Davis walked to his post spot near the Lakers’ bench while Denver Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. was at the line. Nikola Jokic followed Davis and the two bigs were all alone.
Once the Lakers’ bench saw it was Jokic tasked with guarding Davis, it brought the noise with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard screaming, “Thanksgiving, steak dinner, appetizers, filet mignon and potatoes, a glass of champagne!”
Porter Jr. missed his second free throw, and Rajon Rondo threw the ball ahead to Davis, who faced up Jokic and maneuvered his way around the big man for a bucket in the paint. McGee shouted, “Told you it was a feast out there!”
Although the Lakers embarrassingly squandered a 16-point lead early in the third quarter of game two, their trash talking during the game was not over. Watch the below video clip as the Lakers bench uproariously celebrates a second straight missed free-throw from P.J. Dozier. Anthony Davis hit a three to make it 100-92 on the ensuing position and Davis gave the Nuggets bench a bit of a dirty look to let them know that he was here and the Lakers had the momentum. The trash talking, again, bit the Lakers in the ass as they quickly gave up a 9-0 run to make it 101-100 before Davis had to save the day.
Peep the bench 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/MlVRRc3F7H
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) September 21, 2020
The Nuggets have regained the momentum with many members of the Lakers starting to struggle on the offensive end including Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Danny Green. The Lakers now don’t have a leg to stand on in regards to dishing out trash talk. They could just as easily be down 2-1 in this series instead of having the lead. Jamal Murray knows this and confidence is probably growing for the Nuggets.
Jamal Murray: "We feel like we should be up 2-1 right now, to be honest."
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) September 23, 2020
If the Nuggets were to come back and win this series, it wouldn’t be the first time that a Los Angeles basketball team tempted their fate with the “basketball gods” by trash-talking when a series wasn’t over. Marcus Morris for the Clippers famously said on the court in game one of their series against the Nuggets that it was over for Denver, which obviously ended up not being true. And speaking of antagonizing a free-throw shooter from the bench, many made fun of the Clippers for the below clip that occurred during the seeding games.
— KB_Matt (@KB_Carolina) September 16, 2020
The last thing we want as Lakers fans is to be compared to that sad, sad team. Let’s hope the Lakers cut the trash talk and start to take this Denver Nuggets team seriously. They are not here to try and attempt another 3-1 series comeback. They want to take the series over now.