Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis channeled the late Kobe Bryant with a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets Sunday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Lakers now lead the series 2-0 after the 105-103 triumph in Orlando, Fla. Davis scored a game-high 31 points and had nine rebounds.
"It was a special one for me," Davis told reporters. "Special one for my teammates. ... Right before the [season] hiatus, I missed a shot against the Brooklyn Nets in the same spot [during a] slightly different play. I was upset with myself. And [LeBron James] said, 'Man, we're gonna live or die with you shooting that shot.'
"I got the same opportunity tonight. [I was] ready to make it."
Davis and the Lakers trailed 103-102 after Nikola Jokic hit a hook shot for the Nuggets with 20.8 seconds remaining. Alex Caruso missed a 3-pointer with about seven seconds left in regulation, but the Lakers got an offensive rebound after the attempt.
Rajon Rondo found Davis on the right wing with the inbound bounce pass. Davis caught it and elevated before firing the 3-point shot over Jokic's outstretched arm. The buzzer sounded just before the shot went through the net to give the Lakers a two-point win.
Davis sprinted up the sideline and yelled "Kobe" as he celebrated with teammates. The Lakers also wore special "Black Mamba" edition jerseys during the game.
"We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "Obviously, there are certain games where we are going to feel it a little bit more than others. When we have that uniform on, I think we feel it more than others.
"That's a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. To me, [Davis] coming off just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it's a 'Mamba' shot."
The Lakers led by as many as 16 points in the game, which featured eight lead changes and was tied four times.
James paced the Lakers with 12 points in the first quarter for an early 29-21 lead and the team outscored the Nuggets 31-29 in the second quarter to earn a 60-50 edge at halftime.
In the third, the Lakers used a 10-2 run to push the lead to 16 points with 8:12 remaining. The Nuggets chipped away at the lead, outscored the Lakers 28-22 and tied the score at 82-82 with 9:58 in the game.
Denver and Los Angeles then exchanged the lead multiple times before Jokic hit his late hook shot for a one-point edge. The Lakers fought for two key rebounds down the stretch before Rondo hit Davis for the decisive shot.
"You're not going to make them all, but the belief to just take it and live with the results is what it's all about," James said.
"[Sunday] was his moment. It was his moment to find a space, hunt the ball down and one of our top 10 assists leaders, Rondo, found him and he knocked it down. A big-time play."
James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the win. Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 11 points apiece for the Lakers and Rondo had three points and nine assists off the bench.
Jokic scored 30 points and had nine assists, six rebounds and four steals for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray had 25 points, six rebounds and four assists in the loss.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "Obviously, Anthony Davis hits a big three to win the game at the buzzer. We'll watch the film, see what happened on that last play.
"The message is we're down 2-0. Let's go out and win Game 3."
The Nuggets, however, might have the Lakers right where they want them. Denver came back from a 3-1 series deficit in their first two playoff series against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, the only team in NBA history to do it twice in the same postseason.
Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is scheduled for 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday.