Nuggets’ Bruce Brown steals Lakers’ celebration ahead of elimination game: “It felt good”

LOS ANGELES — In another year, or perhaps even just a few months earlier this season, Nuggets sniper Michael Porter Jr. would’ve gladly taken the dagger from 3.

The Nuggets were up 96-94 with just 7:04 left in Saturday’s Game 3, and Porter found himself on the wing with a window. In general, those are the only prerequisites Porter needs to hoist.

But, in a nod to Denver’s unselfishness in their astounding Game 3 victory and Porter’s ongoing maturation, the 6-foot-10 marksman decided to turn a good shot into a great one. He kicked it to the corner and Bruce Brown, who’d been eager to deliver an uppercut to the Lakers’ chances.

“One of my favorite plays of the night, he caught the ball in front of the Laker bench,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “He could have shot the ball contested. Makes one more pass to Bruce Brown, wide-open corner three. … That shows Michael’s continued maturation as a player.”

After Brown buried the triple not five feet in front of Los Angeles’ bench, he mimicked the Lakers’ gaudy shooting celebration, tapping his vein as if there was ice coursing through him.

“I don’t even know how I thought about it,” Brown said Sunday after the team’s film session highlighted areas to clean up ahead of Monday’s Game 4. “I did their celebration, which, it felt good because they’ve been talking to me all series.”

Asked specifically who it was, Brown said Malik Beasley and Tristan Thompson, two reserves who’ve barely played in the Western Conference Finals.

But whether it was calling out D’Angelo Russell’s defense earlier in the series, or clapping back at a Lakers team on the brink of elimination, Brown’s come to embody Denver’s moxie. When Nikola Jokic went to the bench with four fouls only minutes into the third quarter, he was part of the resilient group that held water with their superstar nursing foul trouble.

The guard who refuses to be pigeonholed into any specific position has taken on the stubborn attitude of the rest of his teammates. Why wait to end the Lakers in a Game 5 back in Denver when the job could be done Monday night on the road?

Brown acknowledged an urgency to end it here in front of the Lakers’ home crowd. Their deafening silence late in Game 3 left an impression on him.

“I’ve never seen L.A. like that in the fourth quarter,” said Brown, who had no issues pouring salt in the wound.

Veteran Jeff Green, who was once teammates with LeBron James in Cleveland, had the same healthy fear Jokic professed of what James could be capable of. Even though no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA history, if anyone could do it, Green knows it’s James.

“We have to end it,” Green said.

Currently riding a five-game winning streak, there could be no sweeter indulgence than ousting the glitzy Lakers into the offseason by virtue of a sweep, while simultaneously punching the franchise’s first ticket to the NBA Finals. The Lakers’ pain would be Denver’s gain.

Said Malone: “The closeout game is the hardest game of any series.”

And that’s why Brown won’t allow himself to mentally go there yet. Denver has more work to do and one more win to seize. If they get it, history is theirs.

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.

Source: Read Full Article