NBA

Murray posts first career triple-double as Nuggets roll without Jokic

By Sports Desk January 21, 2023

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray collected the first triple-double of his career as he filled in as his side's top option during Friday's 134-111 home victory against the Indiana Pacers.

The Nuggets were without reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic for the fifth time this season as he sat out with hamstring tightness, allowing Murray to slide in as the primary initiator in what was Denver's ninth consecutive win.

Murray made the most of his opportunity, producing a Jokic-like performance as he attempted only eight field goal attempts on his way to 17 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

He was not alone as the Nuggets shot 61 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from three-point range, with Aaron Gordon also dominating on his way to 28 points (11-of-15 shooting), six assists and five rebounds. 

Michael Porter Jr chipped in 19 points (eight-of-14 shooting) and eight rebounds, while Bruce Brown was everywhere on his way to 17 points (seven-of-11), five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block.

As a team, the Nuggets finished with 38 assists, which was just four away from the league's best total this season, which was set at 42 by the Brooklyn Nets in December.

Speaking after the game, Murray joked he would have more triple-doubles if he did not play with Jokic.

"He steals a lot of my triple-doubles," he said. "It was nice to finally get one on the board.

"I was just playing our game, playing aggressive. We were just having fun out there, the ball was hopping."

Fill-in head coach David Adelman – who is 3-0 while standing in for Michael Malone – spoke about how Murray's game changes with Jokic out of the team.

"I think sometimes you have to [take into consideration] that Jamal plays with Nikola – his job is to score," he said. "The facilitating has gotten better, but we're a unique team in that sense.

"Our guards are out there to cut, move, make plays and score baskets off Nikola, but there are nights where the coverage is what it is and he takes advantage of it.

"We've talked a lot about Aaron Gordon being a possible All-Star – we're the number one team in the West – if Jamal Murray is not in the conversation, then you don't value winning.

"All three of those guys have been so consistent throughout the year, they deserve the accolades they're getting."

The Nuggets are now 33-13, and sit one-and-a-half games clear atop the Western Conference.

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