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LeBron James taking things one game at a time as Lakers avoid Denver sweep

LeBron James says the Los Angeles Lakers have no choice but to take things one game at a time after avoiding a sweep in their Western Conference first-round series against the Denver Nuggets.

Denver missed their first chance to eliminate Los Angeles on Saturday as they suffered a 119-108 defeat in Game 4 at Crypto.com Arena, James putting up a team-high 30 points as the Lakers cut their series deficit to 3-1.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series in NBA history, but the Lakers remain in with a slim chance of reaching the Western Conference semifinals ahead of Game 5 on Monday.

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Speaking after Saturday’s win, James said: “The only opportunity for us is just to play the next game.

“We’ve given ourselves another life. We’ve given ourselves another lifeline, and it’s a one-game series for us.

“Monday’s game is the most important game of the season for us, and we understand that and we know that, it’s at that stage where if you lose, you’re done. You win, and you keep going.”

Anthony Davis added 25 points and 23 rebounds for the Lakers, who overcame a triple-double from Nikola Jokic to get on the board, the likely 2023-24 MVP finishing with 33 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

Denver got off on the wrong foot as a planning mix-up saw some players’ insoles not delivered to the arena on the team bus, leaving some of the visiting players without shoes while warming up.

Coach Michael Malone, though, refused to blame the Nuggets’ defeat on their less-than-ideal preparations.

“Is it ideal? No,” Malone said when asked about the incident. “But hopefully we can figure that out and make sure it never happens again.

“If you want to dig into stuff and say, well, we lost because for some strange reason our players didn’t have their shoes when they got here for their normal warmups, that we had guys out there shooting around with flip-flops, is it ideal? No.

“But I’m not an excuse guy. I’m not going to point to the reason we got our butts kicked in the paint because shoes weren’t here. I think that’s a reach, personally.”

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