The Nuggets got off to a hot start to take down the Lakers in Los Angeles and went on to win the franchise’s first NBA title.

Jamal Murray (left) and the Nuggets ran away from LeBron James and the Lakers.

Jamal Murray (left) and the Nuggets ran away from LeBron James and the Lakers. – Reuters

A productive Denver team defeated the Lakers in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, and the Nuggets advanced to their first NBA Finals appearance with a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference title series.

However, LeBron James refused to accept defeat even after falling into that deep hole that left the Lakers with no choice but to rewrite league history to reach the Finals.

Jamal Murray scored 37 points in a dazzling first-half shooting performance that led to a 119-108 victory as the Nuggets moved to another victory, playing for the crown, and finally stopped the seventh-ranked Lakers in their tracks.

Murray also finished with seven rebounds and six assists, and Nikola Jokic added 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to lead Denver to victory.

“We stuck with it,” Murray told ESPN afterward. “We just had the strike-first mentality that we had throughout the playoffs. We kept them at a distance for most of the game.

“I just felt like we shot the ball the whole game and struck out first.”

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points, while James and Austin Reaves scored 23 points each.

“Lakers” coach Darwin Hamm admitted that his team could not cope with Murray early.

“He was on fire,” Hamm said of Murray. “He’s one of those players, man, when he starts to see them come in, he just catches fire and gets them rolling real quick, which he did in the first half.”

No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.

James, however, insisted the Lakers can turn the series around, starting with a Game 4 win on Monday.

When asked if “belief” is still present in the Lakers locker room, James replied: “It should be. I hope.

“I can’t speak for the guys right now because I don’t know what’s going through their minds right now. But I still do.”

James said he will use the opportunity to rewrite history and bring the Lakers back as motivation.

“That’s definitely the only mindset for me,” he said.

James added that his message to his teammates for the remainder of the series would be “just one time.”

“Just focus on Game 4 and, you know, that’s all you can really think about,” he said. “Obviously this game is over and done with. We had some chances but didn’t make it.

“So just get ready for Monday and you just have to get one. It’s a one-game series for us. Every game is important.”

Heat on a rolling pin as well

Meanwhile in the East, the Heat look to carry their winning ways at home and push the Boston Celtics to the brink of elimination on Sunday when their Eastern Conference Finals series shifts to Miami.

The eighth-seeded Heat have won all five home playoff games so far. They also upset the second-place Celtics by winning the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Boston.

Jimmy Butler had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Miami’s 111-105 win over Boston on Friday, while Bam Adebayo had 22, 17 and nine assists.

“Jimmy and Bam just anchored us offensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s great when your two best players can lead you, in a place where the ball can go, and everybody just plays with those guys.

“They were both basically guarding everybody on the floor at some point, mostly with switches at some point. They’re going to burn a lot of calories in that direction, but on the other end they’re going to have a huge responsibility for us.”

Miami is looking to become only the second eighth team in league history to reach the Finals. – Reports from AFP and Reuters

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