The Lakers Are One Win Away From Their First NBA Finals Appearance In 10 Years

Melissa Rohlin

LeBron James has a special gauge for Anthony Davis. 

Before games, he looks at his unibrow and decides whether to approach him. 

"If his brow is really low, then you know not to talk to him," James said. "If it's higher, then he's accepted the fact that you're allowed to come into his office and talk to him. [Wednesday] his brow was very low."

James didn't talk to Davis following his two-rebound performance in Game 3 on Tuesday that he called "unacceptable."

The brow didn't lead him astray.  

Davis got the space he needed to regroup, finishing with a game-high 34 points on 10-for-15 shooting and five rebounds in the Lakers' 114-108 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their Western Conference Finals series Thursday, taking a 3-1 series lead. 

The Lakers are one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years.

Davis, who opened the game with six-straight baskets, had a bit of a scare midway through the fourth quarter when he rolled his left ankle after landing awkwardly from a jump shot.  

Davis writhed on the floor in pain for a few moments. He then limped to the bench during a timeout before reentering the game. 

"I knew I wasn't going to come out," Davis said. 

Davis said he "rolled it pretty bad, but not too bad," adding that "it's going to be a little sore and tender tomorrow." He plans to get treatment around the clock before Game 5 on Saturday. 

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Davis showed "great toughness" by returning to play, adding that he set the tone in the game. 

"The way he started the game was off the charts," Vogel said. "His shot-making was ridiculous, and his energy all over the floor, defending, rebounding, running the floor and obviously just scoring the ball at will to start the game. He was terrific tonight."

It was all Davis at the top of the game, but James came through down the stretch. 

James asked to guard Jamal Murray, helping to hold him to just three-for-seven shooting in the fourth quarter.

"Nothing was really working in terms of trying to slow him down until LeBron took that assignment," Vogel said of Murray, who had 32 points and eight assists. "Game ball to him, I guess, for that move."

Even in his 17th season at age 35, James said he's always ready to take the toughest assignment. 

"It's winning time and I don't have a chance or time to be feeling tired," said James, who had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. "I'm tired now. That's when I'm tired, when it's zeros on the clock. That's when I'm tired. I'm not tired during the game."

The Lakers excelled in a couple of areas in Game 4. 

They had 12 offensive rebounds. And they outdid the Nuggets in second-chance points, 25-6.

Now, they just need one more win. 

But against the Nuggets, a 3-1 advantage feels slippery. 

After all, the Nuggets have overcome two-straight 3-1 deficits in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz and the Clippers.

"You can never be comfortable around this team," Davis said. "They've been in this situation twice. We've been in this situation [up 3-1] twice. So both teams are familiar with these situations. But this team is not going to go away. Like I said last game, we've got to put them away. They're going to continue to fight, no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is. We've just got to make sure that we counterpunch them with everything that they do."

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