LeBron James, D'Angelo Russell, and Darvin Ham vented their frustration at the NBA and the Game 2 officials after Jamal Murray's buzzer-beater capped a 20-point Denver Nuggets comeback at Ball Arena on Monday. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, was more self-critical after his team's 10th straight loss to the Nuggets — and sixth straight in the NBA Playoffs.

“It stings,” Ham said after the 101-99 result buried his team in a 2-0 series deficit heading back to Los Angeles. “Remember this feeling … We need to give them this feeling in Game 3.”

The Lakers appeared en route to seizing home-court advantage (and vanquishing psychological wounds) when they opened up a 68-48 lead with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. To that point, the Lakers resembled their post-February form: AD and LeBron led the charge as Russell rained 3-pointers. 20 of the Lakers' first 26 buckets were assisted.

Their offense stagnated as the Nuggets chipped away. Excluding LeBron's heroics, the Lakers shot 4-for-18 over the final 20 minutes. Murray's game-winner — which cruelly sent Davis barreling into a celebratory bench — gave the Nuggets their first lead since the first quarter. Denver went 7-for-7 from the field in the final 4:24.

It's the largest blown lead of the season for the Lakers.

Davis began the day talking up his defense. He ended up producing an offensive masterclass. AD converted 11 of his first 12 shot attempts, routinely cooking Jokic. He finished with 32 points on 14-for-19 shooting and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes.

“Win Game 3. That simple. Win Game 3,” AD said about how the Lakers can turn the page mentally, before making a concerning assertion. “We've shown that we're more than capable. We have stretches where we don't know what we're doing on both ends of the floor.”

Two non-calls, in particular, appeared to get on the Lakers' nerves. In the final minute of the third quarter, as the Lakers clung to their last vestiges of momentum, Russell was smacked in the face by Michael Porter Jr. on a drive to the basket. Upon review, the contact was deemed “marginal” and the foul was overturned.

“Some tough calls. Some tough non-calls. But you can't use any of that as an excuse,” said Ham. “You gotta go out there and be ready to make plays whether the whistle gets blown or not. It's getting real tricky, go through the season games being officiated one way, and then you get to the playoffs, and I guess it's left up to the interpretation of the three individual guys that's doing the job out there.”


“I like where we were at. I like the chance we gave ourselves,” said Russell (23 points), who accepted AD's challenge and splashed seven triples. “A few questionable calls that really dictated a lot of things.”

“That’s a foul we all saw it on national television,” Russell later posted on X.

The Lakers also seemed perturbed by a non-call on LeBron's go-ahead layup with 47.7 seconds to go.

The Nuggets ended up winning the free-throw advantage by four. The Lakers were called for three more fouls.

“Of course, it's a heartbreaking game. You never want to lose in that fashion,” said a visibly irked LeBron, before a long pause. “I don't understand what's going on in the replay center, to be honest … DLo clearly gets hit in the face on the drive. What the f-ck do we have a replay center for? … It doesn't make sense to me.”

The Lakers will seek to cleanse their palate — and save their season — at Crypto.com Arena on Thursday. The NBA replay center will be in the same location.

“Obviously, the only game that matters now is Game 3 and how we can get better,” said LeBron. “How we can figure this team out. So Game 3 is where my mindset is.”