ROUND UP

Murray’s heat packs up the Wolves as Nuggets dominate Game 3

May 10, 2024, 10:16 PM | Updated: 10:21 pm

We were told time and time again that Friday was the biggest night in Minnesota Timberwolves’ recent history; the Denver Nuggets spoiled it. And there is nobody who likes playing the villain more than Jamal Murray who was jeered every time he touched the ball. The Twin Cities crowd was not happy the Blue Arrow was on the floor after throwing a heat pack and a towel on the court during Game 2. But the pack of Wolves got packed up by Murray and crew on Friday, taking Game 3 117-90.

Getting a good start for the first time this postseason, the Nuggets sped out to a 20-point lead in the first half and took a 56-41 lead into the break. In the second half, they exploded back out past a 25-point lead. Denver’s Game 3 win cut Minnesota’s series lead to 2-1 after the Timberwolves took the first two in the Mile High City. If the Nuggets can score another victory in Sunday’s Game 4, the reigning champions will have gone from seemingly done to taking back home court advantage,

But the Nuggets still have their work cut out for them, they just started the comeback trail in great form.

“Just do what we are capable of and what we can do,” Nikola Jokic told ESPN. “We have been in tough positions and been down big and we know we can comeback. Play like a champion and have that mindset.”

Murray brought the heat for a scorching Nuggets offense. The star guard scored 24 points on 11-of-21 shooting, plus three steals. He was pivotal in Denver’s offense finally looking itself and it was a stark difference from his Game 2 performance. Aside from his moments of frustration with the refs on Monday, he only scored eight points in that game. Murray’s calf has bugged him for several games now and the Game 3 explosion could be a sign that he’s more than on the mend.

Murray’s partner and the now three-time MVP spent much of the early portions of the contest playmaking. He added the scoring in the third quarter when the Nuggets out-scored their foes 37-25. Joker finished just shy of a triple-double, with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists while adding three steals and three blocks.

It wasn’t just Denver’s terrific twosome, they got a lot from Christian Braun, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr. and more. MPJ was third on the Nuggets with 21 points, only limited by some foul troubles. Gordon hit multiple threes in finishing with 13 points. While Braun and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope slowed Anthony Edwards to just 19 points and five helpers.

Karl-Anthony Towns hit some big shots early but was held to just 14 points. Despite returning home, the Wolves struggled to shoot and missed some really easy ones, limiting their offense to 44% shooting.

While the Nuggets may have seemed dead just hours ago, a world of possibilities seems now open. Denver’s frustration may have boiled over on Monday but on Friday the game ended with multiple technical fouls on the Wolves. They big-time blew a chance to basically secure just a second-ever club trip to the conference finals.

With a generational solar storm giving nearly everyone in America the Northern Lights on Friday, the Nuggets may have started their generational comeback. Already the core who is the lone one to come back from 3-1 twice in a postseason, the group is trying to become just the fifth to overturn a 2-0 series deficit after losing both games at home. Of the 26 teams since 1984 to fall down 2-0 at home, 14 lost Game 3 and nobody in league history has ever come back from down 3-0. Now Denver’s odds have shifted to the historical record of 4-8 in their circumstance, which includes NBA teams with a 2-3 record in that situation since 2017. So the odds may still not be great for the Nuggets but what were the odds you would see the Aurora Borealis with your naked eye from the Denver metro? That happened on Friday. While Murray wasn’t as hot as the sun like we’ve seen him at times, all he needed to do was bring the temperature of a heat pack—and that was more than enough for the Nuggets.

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