Mendoza: Miracle or funeral?

With its one foot in the grave, Los Angeles needs to achieve the first of three miracles today (Tuesday, May 23, 2023, PH time) to avoid burial rites.

That’s what the embattled Lakers face as they play Game 4 against the Nuggets, grimly staring at a 3-0 hole in their best-of-seven series against Denver for the NBA Western Conference crown.

Seemingly, history has always been kind to LeBron James, the so-called heart and soul of the Lakers. So many times has the 6-foot-8 scoring machine been able to accomplish stunning feats, including establishing himself as the all-time best in most points scored overall last February that broke Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s previous NBA record of 38,387 markers.

But this time, it is most unlikely that the basketball gods will smile at LeBron James.

For one, while James displayed consistency in all of the Lakers’ three losses to the Nuggets, not Anthony “AD” Davis. AD, the 6-foot-11 cornerstone of Los Angeles, disappeared in the Game 2 132-126 win of Denver.

For another, no team that’s down 3-0 has ever come back to win in NBA history.

Add the fact that teams leading 3-0 are 149-0 in NBA’s playoff series lore.

And the Lakers’ 119-108 Game 3 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday could be ominous as it was Los Angeles’ first home court defeat after winning six straight this season.

While the Lakers’ 1-2 punch (James-Davis) couldn’t constantly click, the Nuggets’ Jamaal Murray and Nikola Jokic were a deadly duet practically all the way.

Murray and Jokic even brandished their pangs in Game 3 on separate occasions as though assigning themselves of chores for a purposeful paradigm.

After Murray scattered 30 in the first half of his 37-point total, giving him an average of 31 points per game on 52-percent shooting (45 percent from deep), Jokic, the two-time MVP, took charge in the fourth quarter by dropping 15 of his 24-point total that snuffed out a brewing Laker uprising.

“It’s a team effort,” said Murray, whose hot hands was sparked by a 5-5 start.

Although AD had 28 points and 18 rebounds and James 23 points and 12 assists, they had no ample support in the Game 3 debacle as the usually hot D’Angelo Russell could only chip in three points.

And so, in today’s Game 4, will it be a miracle or a funeral, finally, for the Lakers?