NUGGETS

Murray’s arrow caps biggest comeback in Nuggets playoff history

Apr 23, 2024, 2:35 AM | Updated: 2:44 am

DENVER—”Jamal Murray made a shot,” mic drop.

That’s all perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers could muster up about the Jamal Murray buzzer-beater hit in his face to win Monday’s Game 2.

Davis has now been on the right end and the wrong side of game-winning shots in the playoffs for the Lakers against the Denver Nuggets. His buzzer-beater to beat the Nuggets in the bubble was instrumental in Los Angeles’ title win in 2020.

It had been that long since Jamal Murray had played as poorly as he did on Monday in a playoff game. The Blue Arrow was 3-of-16 from the field in the first three quarters of the game.

“There was a point in the game I think it was around the end of the third,” Murray recalled “And I was like, I’m looking for you guys just relocate, just whatever the game plan was. I was looking to find guys and every single one told me to shoot it. I was shooting awful and for all of them to tell me to keep shooting and none of them ever wavered in confidence in me hitting a shot is I think pretty special. And then that’s what really kept me shooting, I would have tried to get somebody going.”

So Murray kept his foot on the gas and kept chucking. Murray hit four of his final six attempts all in the fourth quarter for 14 points in the final period. He was massive in Denver’s comeback and his last shot, a side-stepping mid-range dagger over Davis for a 101-99 Nuggets win, completed the recovery.

“Everyone knew I was going to make it when it counted,” Murray said.

It’s so clear that everyone in the house knew that it was going down—all it takes is looking at Michael Porter Jr.’s reaction to the shot to know. MPJ ran across the floor to start the dogpile on Murray before the ball went all the way up. Or you can listen very closely to the videos from Ball Arena—in the moments the shots in the air you can hear some in the crowd already call game.

Murray was one of many Nuggets who had to battle to even stay in it during Game 2. The Lakers opened up a 20-point lead, getting a monster game from Anthony Davis with D’Angelo Russell sidekicking. Davis torched 11 shots in the first half, the most of his playoff career and Russell swished six threes in the first 24 minutes, also a career postseason best. Davis wound up with 32 points while Russell added 23.

Davis actually didn’t score from the seven-minute mark of the third onward. But LeBron James hit two massive three-balls and got a giant jam when the Lakers needed it most. That buoyed Los Angeles in the final moments as James finished at 26 points.

“He’s an offensive monster and defense too,” Nikola Jokic said about AD. “He’s a very talented player and I’m not good on defense like that.”

Jokic answered Davis by recording the fourth 27 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists NBA Playoffs game, joining just Nikola Jokic, Nikola Jokic and Nikola Jokic as players to achieve those numbers since the merger with the ABA.

In Murray’s timely arrow, the Nuggets recorded their first-ever NBA Playoffs buzzer-beater (they had one in the ABA) as the team recorded its 100th NBA Playoffs win on the 47th anniversary of the club’s first.

Oh right, and that’s the final result of what was the biggest playoff comeback win in the franchise’s history.

“I did not like how we walked off the court at halftime,” Michael Malone said. “I felt like we were feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit. They came in they were kicking our butt. And we dropped our heads and didn’t like our spirit. I didn’t like our disposition and I told him that halftime. I said ‘There’s a lot of basketball and stay with it. This is a funny business,’ and our guys did that.”

Murray and every Nugget not named Jokic or Porter went 0-for-20 from three. On a night the Lakers did not miss in the first half, the Nuggets had to find a way to win when they couldn’t hit.

“For those that have been following us for a long time, that’s Jamal Murray right there. He can struggle, he can struggle, he can struggle. He sees one go in. And he’s never shying away from the moment and the spotlight and that was just an incredible play,” Malone said. “His playoff exploits, all the commercials right now, there is a playoff Jamal. The proof is in the stats and what he does in the postseason is just incredible. And a lot of guys that have been All-Stars can never even come close to doing what he does in a postseason.”

So it’s another big-time postseason moment for Murray and the Nuggets and they take a commanding 2-0 lead on the rival Lakers, who they’ve now beaten 10 straight times.

“It speaks to a team that’s got tremendous confidence in themselves and more importantly in the collective. We are a championship team we are the reigning champs,” Malone said. “We might get down by 20 points, but we’re not gonna roll over. I mean, that’s that’s not who we are. That’s not who I am. And that’s never been a part of Denver Nuggets basketball in the last nine years. So it speaks to guys just trusting the process, staying with it, making the necessary adjustments, then guys stepping up—you got to make plays to get back in and win a game when you’re down by 20. And we have a lot of guys step up and make big play after big play. So yeah we did our job.”

Maybe the sweetest part about the ending is where it happened, with Murray knocking the buzzer-beater just in front of the Nuggets bench. The only reason the shot happened there is because Lakers coach Darvin Ham’s big adjustment from Game 1 to Game 2 was flipping which sides of the court the teams shoot in each half.

“We wanted to defend our home floor, it’s a big shot and to come back from down 20—the emotions, you fight for this so much when you get it, you feel the emotions,” Jokic said about the Jamal Murray buzzer-beater and celebration.

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