LeBron James left red-faced as showboat dunk fails in Los Angeles Lakers loss
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James was involved in an odd incident during their 108-103 Game Two loss in Denver against the Nuggets when the NBA's all-time leading scorer missed a wide-open dunk by trying to get too creative.
With under eight minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Lakers leading 40-32, center Anthony Davis denied Nuggets guard and former LA teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a drive to the rim. Dennis Schroder corralled the resulting rebound and quickly passed it on to Rui Hachimura, who instigated the fast break.
James sprinted out from the group and received the ball behind the back of Denver center Nikola Jokic, the furthest player back, before driving at the rim.
After bouncing the ball in one motion while handling the Hachimura pass, James widened his stride before taking two further steps and then taking off after entering the paint. But, in mid-air, while attempting a reverse dunk, the ball slipped out of his hands and off the court.
The blown dunk was James' second of three turnovers during 40 minutes on the floor for the four-time MVP. It was not the only uncharacteristic moment of that quarter either, as barely a minute earlier, he also missed a wide-open finger roll layup while driving to the rim.
That attempt was the first of five straight misses during the second quarter. James went 9-for-19 from the field, missing all six three-point attempts.
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While it was a below-average shooting night for James, he did post a near triple-double during the narrow defeat after scoring 22 points to go along with nine rebounds and a team-high ten assists. However, those numbers were unable to prevent the Lakers from going down 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals, despite leading by 11 at one stage.
While five LA players scored in double figures, three surpassing the 20-point mark, losing the rebounding battle, as it did in Game One, cost them again in Game Two as Denver pulled down nine more rebounds.
Those extra possessions meant the Nuggets prevailed despite the two teams shooting an almost identical percentage from the field. Three-point shooting was also another difference.
Austin Reaves went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, but no other Laker made more than one three to shoot a pitiful 26.7%. Contrastingly, Michael Porter Jr. and Murray combined to shoot 10-for-21 from three, and guards Bruce Brown Jr. and Caldwell-Pope made two apiece as Denver shot 36.8%.
Murray's shot-making in the fourth quarter ultimately separated the sides down the stretch. The Canadian scored 24 of his 37 points during the final frame to score as many points as the Lakers did on his own.
It was some bounce back from the guard, who went 3-for-13 from the field during the first half. The series heads to Los Angeles for Game Three, and Saturday's game tips off at 1:30 am BST.