Lakers outshined by Nuggets again in clutch, face 3-0 deficit

For the third time in as many games in the Western Conference finals, the outcome was up for grabs in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers couldn't complete the task. 

Saturday's 119-108 loss to the Denver Nuggets to fall behind 3-0 in the series might have contained different details than L.A.'s two defeats to begin the series, but the general theme was the same: The West's No. 1 seed did more when it mattered most. 

Now one loss away from their season being over, the Lakers, who started the season 2-10 and completely overhauled the roster just before the All-Star break, are hoping they have one more improbable run left in them. 

"Just got to get one," said LeBron James, who finished with 23 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds but missed 11 of 19 shots -- including 4 of 6 in the fourth quarter. "Just one at a time. Just focus on Game 4, and you know, that's all you can really think about." 

If there was one game that seemed attainable for the Lakers, Saturday was it. The Lakers were at home, where they had yet to lose this postseason. 

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had as many fouls as made field goals (four) through the first three quarters. Anthony Davis (28 points on 11-for-18 shooting, 18 rebounds) was impactful. 

But with the game hanging in the balance, the Nuggets took it, using a 13-0 run from the 7:48 mark of the fourth quarter until there was 4:50 remaining to put it out of the Lakers' reach. Jokic, with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting in the fourth, was the best player on the court to close it. 

NBA teams are 0-149 when trailing 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, and the Lakers as a franchise have never even forced a Game 5 when in this position, going 0-8, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. 

L.A. trailed by three in the final minute in Games 1 and 2. And the Lakers had their chances in Game 3, taking the lead in the fourth. The Nuggets have edged the Lakers consistently enough to turn a seemingly small margin between the two teams into a wide gap heading into Game 4.