Ohm YoungmisukESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
DENVER – Jamal Murray caught a pass from Nikola Jokic on the left wing and drilled his fourth three-pointer in the fourth quarter on LeBron James.
“Explosion!” Murray shouted, referring to ESPN Mike Breen’s trademark call, while gesturing at the ESPN broadcast table on his way back onto the field.
After missing 12 of 17 shots and scoring just 14 points through the first three quarters, Murray gave the Los Angeles Lakers a taste of the “Murray Playoff” in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Ball Arena. Murray exploded for 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to help the Denver Nuggets win 108-103 to lead the Lakers to a 2-0 deficit.
Murray—who also had 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals—said he grew up dreaming of fourth-quarter playoff performances like this. It was his fourth 20-plus-point quarter in the playoffs, the most in the past 25 seasons and twice more than Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson, who are tied for second, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.
“When I was young, I used to count down the seconds off the shot clock and shoot and talk like Marv Albert and Mike Brin,” Murray said after the game. “Just the imagination running around like a kid. When you walk into that moment and you see your family in the crowd, you see your little brother there, you see Mike Brin there, all these little reminders, it all pays off and makes that moment a little more special. Just shuts you up again.” “
He added, “Playing in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers and LeBron James. It’s an amazing opportunity, something you’ll go down in history and remember for the rest of your life.”
The Nuggets also had their fourth straight triple-double from Jokic, who had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. It was also his fifth double in three matches in six matches.
But it was Murray who played the designer. He had an ear infection that sidelined him last weekend and prevented him from doing much at all.
But he scored 31 or more points in two home victories against the Lakers. On Thursday night, Murray scored the last 12 points of the game for the Nuggets. This is the second most consecutive points scored by a team to finish a game in a Conference Finals or win the NBA Finals over the past 25 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“He was special and won the match,” Jokic said. “His energy, he played 42 minutes, so… I think he was amazing. Yeah, maybe in the first half, he struggled to get the ball. But when it mattered most, he hit and basically won the game.”
It was a moment Denver coach Michael Malone cherished. He saw how hard Murray had to work to fight his way back from a torn left ACL in April 2021, which forced him to miss the previous two seasons.
“I love Jamal Murray,” said Malone. “It’s not just the way I coach him. We’ve been together for seven years and gone through so many ups and downs and to see him play again at the level he plays is a first thought for me it’s just such a great pride and so happy for him that I’ve seen the dark days come back from my league.” Asian champions.
Malone added, “He’s got to keep it going. Obviously, our goal wasn’t met. We’ve got to win this series. Our goal is to win the championship, and he’s going to be a big part of that.”
Murray’s clutch performance helped bury the Lakers’ Nuggets — who led 11 in the third but watched Denver score 20 of their first 25 points in the fourth quarter — when they made seven three-pointers.
Murray’s fourth quarter eclipsed James’ 22 points the entire game. With Anthony Davis struggling through a 4-for-15 shooting night with 18 points and 14 rebounds, the Nuggets head to Los Angeles looking to add to the top of their pack.
While the Nuggets continue to surprise some despite their #1 finish and the best record in the West, Murray said Denver has been used to it for several years now.
“We’re the Denver Nuggets; we’re used to it,” Murray said. “Even when we win, they talk about the other team. We beat the Clippers on the bubble, and they talk about the other team. Same old, same old. It fuels us up a little bit more and it’ll be sweeter when we win the chip.”
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