Jamal Murray and scored 50 points, but it wasn’t enough as Donovan Mitchell poured in 51 as Utah beat Denver 129-127 on Sunday night to take commanding 3-1 series lead.
It marked the first time in NBA playoff history that two opposing players each reached the 50-point plateau in the same game. In the process Mitchell also joined Michael Jordan (vs. Cleveland in 1988) and Allen Iverson (vs. Toronto in 2001) to have multiple 50-point games in the same playoff series.
For the Nuggets the result is all that matters at this point, as Denver must win the next three games against Utah or else its season is over.
“We’re not going to roll over, we’re going to fight. And I was really encouraged after the game, after a tough loss, down 3-1. There’s no quit in our team. Those guys are fired up. They’re ready to get back out there and play Game 5 and try to stretch and extend this series.”Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the loss.
Denver tweaked its starting lineup after getting blown out in Games 2 and 3. Malone benched Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig and inserted Jerami Grant and Monte Morris into starting five.
Denver had a one-point lead at halftime, but got outscored 33-24 in the third quarter and were unable to fully recover in the fourth quarter. There also was a massive free-throwing shooting difference in the game, with the Jazz attempting 36 free throws to the Nuggets 13.
“We’ve struggled to get to the line, but I’m not going to really comment on that. I’m not giving the league any of my money.”Malone said after the game.
Murray had the same thoughts, as he had this to say:
“I’m not going to speak on it. I don’t want to get fined.”
Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (TNT, Altitude).
- Murray’s 50 points were the most in Nuggets playoff history. He also added 11 rebounds and seven assists in the loss.
- Nikola Jokić had a solid game as he scored 29 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists. He struggled from three-point range though, going 3-for-10 from deep.
- The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote that the Nuggets to to wake up and stop dreaming they can win a championship with the way this team currently is constructed.
- My thoughts: I tend to agree with what Kiszla has to say about this Nuggets team. They’re very similar to a lot of the Nuggets teams I grew up watching, great offense, but no defense. And when it comes to crunch time, especially in the playoffs, you can’t think you’re just going to outscore teams.
Yes, it will work sometimes. You might even be able to win a playoff series here or there, but making it to and then winning a championship is nearly impossible that way.
Tim Connelly and company have done a remarkable job drafting and developing talent. Malone appears to have fostered a great team environment. But if this organization ever hopes to win an NBA championship it needs to start doing it with defense.
The Golden State Warriors championship teams of the past few years were great offensive powerhouses, but they also were Top 5 defenses and that’s what made them so good.
Until the Nuggets either embrace playing defense on an nightly basis or bring in a few top defenders to get the job done they’ll remain part of the NBA’s second class.
- Nuggets-Jazz results and schedule
|Game 1||Denver 135, Utah 125, OT||Box Score|
|Game 2||Utah 124, Denver 105||Box score|
|Game 3||Utah 124, Denver 87||Box score|
|Game 4||Utah 129, Denver 127||Box score|
|Tue., Aug. 25||4:30 p.m.||TNT, Altitude|
|*Thur., Aug. 27||2 p.m.||ESPN, Altitude|
|Sat., Aug. 29||TBD||TNT, Altitude|