The Nuggets time in the NBA’s Orlando bubble appeared to be nearing an end Tuesday evening with Denver trailing Utah by 15 points with nine minutes to play in the third quarter, then Jamal Murray happened. Murray scored 33 points on 14-for-18 shooting in the second half to rally the Nuggets to the come-from-behind 117-107 victory over the Jazz.
When all was said and done the 23-year-old Nuggets guard finished with 42 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Even more impressive he didn’t have a turnover for the second game in a row, giving him 92 points and zero turnover in the past two games.
The Nuggets now trail Utah 3-2 in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. (ESPN, Altitude).
Murray’s 33-point second half is tied with Russell Westbrook (2018) and James Harden (2015) for the most second half points by a player when facing elimination in the past 20 years.
He also joined Harden, Westbrook and Allen Iverson as the only players to have multiple 30-point halves in the same postseason since 1996-1997. Murray scored 32 points in the second half Denver’s loss in Game 4.
“The young man is growing up and turning into a superstar on the biggest stage. And couldn’t be more proud of him.”Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said of Murray after the game.
Not only did Murray save the Nuggets’ season, he also turned the focus to fighting for social justice and change after the game.
“We got a lot of young, talented guys (in the NBA). And we get to play on the biggest stage. We get a platform. And I wear those Breonna (Taylor) shoes and those George Floyd shoes. We’ve been fighting that (social injustice) battle for 400 years. The least I can do is go out on the court and fight my battle, and just play as hard as I can, and we’ll live with the result. We’ve got a lot of guys in this league that can take over and a lot of guys that aren’t in the playoffs that can take over, as well. As everybody says, the league’s in good hands with the amount of talent we have.”Murray said after Tuesday’s game.
Jokic comes up big
Murray wasn’t the only Nuggets player to step up with Denver facing elimination, Nikola Jokić is another major reason the Nuggets still have at least one more game left to play this season.
While Murray dominated quarters three and four, Jokić was the star of the first frame. Not only did he score 21 of his 31 points in the opening quarter, he did so on 8-for-8 shooting, including knocking down five three pointers.
“He was scoring at such a high clip and making Rudy (Gobert) step out and guard him.”Murray said of Jokic’s play on Tuesday.
Jokic was quick to praise the overall energy of the team, as well as single Murray out.
“I think the energy won the game for us. And Jamal.”Jokic said after the win.
The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wondered whether the NBA could give Murray a lit bit of the love that’s currently being heaped on Luka Dońič.
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|
|Game 5||Denver 117, Utah 107||Box score|
|Game 6||Denver 1197, Utah 107||Box score|
|Game 7||Denver 80, Utah 78||Box score|
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