DROP THE MIKE

Nuggets ace championship test in monster Game 2 victory

May 19, 2023, 6:33 AM

More and more, these Denver Nuggets are proving they have “The Look.” They continue to show they have what it takes to be a championship team.

Last night’s win over the Lakers makes it three-straight Game 2’s where the Nuggets once again demonstrated they could win a tough playoff game when circumstances didn’t always favor them.

Start with the Minnesota series. The Nuggets cruised in Game 1, winning by 29 points. In Game 2, they led at halftime, only to give up 40 points in the third quarter and trail by two going into the fourth. No problem. Nuggets rallied and won by nine.

In the Phoenix series, the Nuggets blew out the Suns in Game 1 by 18 points. But they struggled mightily in Game 2. Jamal Murray shot 3-for-15, the Nuggets scored a measly 70 points through three quarters and trailed again entering the fourth by three. Again, no biggie. Denver put the clamps down on the Suns, outscoring them 27-14 and won a hard earned 97-87 decision.

Which brings us to Game 2 last night. The Lakers were playing their game. The pace was slower. L.A. was getting the calls and had a big advantage at the free-throw line. I wrote in my game notes midway through the third the Nuggets were in desperate need of an energy boost.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Michael Malone told us all how his team wasn’t playing hard enough and they apparently didn’t realize this was the Western Conference Finals. Nikola Jokic and LeBron James exchanged embarrassing flop fouls. The game and maybe the series was teetering in the balance.

And then Jamal Murray ducked into a phone booth and turned into Superman.

What he did in that fourth quarter will become the stuff of Denver sports’ legend. Murray shook off three terrible quarters – shooting 5-for-17 – and then went crazy. He scored 23 points in the fourth quarter. Ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot.

I know shooters are supposed to keep shootingm but his ability to just turn an awful night around like that when his team needed it most is astounding.

Can we please get rid of “Bubble Murray?” That’s an insult. This guy is “Playoff Murray.”

I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again after this scintillating performance. Jokic is the Nuggets’ best player, but Murray is their heartbeat.

Murray scored 23 of Denver’s 32 fourth quarter points. That’s another way in which the Nuggets keep passing these championship tests? They rallied again to win in the fourth quarter with Jokic scoring zero points. Think about that!

Halfway home to their first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals, the Nuggets have that Look. And the NBA world is finally taking notice.

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