Jamal Murray stepped up, and the Denver Nuggets posted their first win in the West finals against the LA Lakers. The young superstar shooting guard had a team-high in points, but what was more important is that he rebuffed the Lakers’ late surge, and secured Denver’s 114-106 victory.
The Nuggets were up 97-77 with 10:36 to go, once the purple and gold started splashing from all over the court, making a 19-2 series and cutting their deficit to just three points.
That was when Murray jumped in, scored two three-pointers, and dropped one surreal assist to Paul Millsap, propelling the Nuggets to go on a 12-3 run and secure their first triumph the matchup against the LAL.
After a close first period, that ended 29-27 in Denver’s favor, Michael Malone’s side opened the second sequence with a 21-5 run. The halftime saw the Nuggets leading 10 points, 63-53 and that was pretty much the difference they held on to until the middle of the third, which is when their next run began.
Murray ended the night with 28 points, 12 assists, and eight boards, in 44 minutes on the court. He was 10-for-17 from the field, 4-for-8 for three.
Nikola Jokic has been excellent too, with the Serb posting 22 buckets, 10 rebounds, and five assists, shooting 8-for-14.
Now the one guy who stepped in and performed superbly as a sidekick was Jerami Grant. The athletic forward recorded a career-high in the playoffs with 26 points, missing four shots in 11 attempts, and going 10-for-12 from the free-throw line. Monte Morris had 14 off the bench, while Michael Porter Jr. scored 9 with six rebounds.
LeBron James had a triple-double with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, which wasn’t enough for his Lakers to win. Anthony Davis provided 27 buckets but with miserable two boards in 43 minutes, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 12 points, Kyle Kuzma one fewer.
The LAL had only 25 boards, while on the other side, Denver recorded 44, which was a massive factor in tonight’s game. Both sides had a good shooting percentage, Denver 54.8%, and LAL 51.8%.
Denver responded after two very tough games for them, one in which they suffered a huge injustice and the second that delivered a buzzer-beating knockout. It is up to the Lakers now to see whether they have some reply.
Game 4 is on Thursday, at 9 pm ET.