NBA

Murray says Nuggets given fuel by lack of recognition after downing Lakers again

By Sports Desk May 19, 2023

Jamal Murray and Michael Malone wanted to make sure people would be talking about the Denver Nuggets after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

They achieved just that as the Nuggets moved 2-0 ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 108-103 win, led by Murray's 37 points.

Murray scored 23 points in a huge fourth quarter that Denver had started three points behind. The Canadian also recorded 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Nikola Jokic impressed again, registering his fifth triple-double in the space of six games with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.

It was clear after Thursday's game that the Nuggets had been frustrated to see much of the coverage of their 132-126 win in Game 1 discussing the positives of the Lakers' performance.

Now, Denver are two wins away from a first NBA Finals appearance.

"You win Game 1 and all everybody talked about was the Lakers," said Malone, per ESPN.

"Let's be honest, the national narrative was, 'Hey, the Lakers are fine. They're down 1-0, but they figured something out'.

"No one talked about how Nikola just had an historic performance. He's got 13 playoff triple-doubles now, third all-time. What he's doing is just incredible on a nightly basis on the biggest stage in the world.

"But their narrative wasn't about the Nuggets. The narrative wasn't about Nikola. The narrative was about the Lakers and their adjustments. 

"So you know, you put that in your pipe and you smoke it, you come back and you know what, we're gonna go up 2-0."

Murray added: "We're the Denver Nuggets; we're used to that.

"Even when we win, they talk about the other team. We beat the Clippers in the bubble, they talk about the other team. 

"Same old, same old. It fuels us a little more and will be sweeter when we win the chip."

Murray, who is still battling an ear infection, had only made five of his first 17 shots before his decisive late surge.

"It would have been a lot easier if I had made them in the first half!" he said.

"Playing in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers and LeBron James, it's an amazing opportunity, and it's something you're going to look back in history and remember for the rest of your life."

James and Austin Reaves both scored 22 points for the Lakers, while Rui Hachimura added 21 off the bench.

Anthony Davis had 18 points and 14 rebounds but was held to a 4-of-15 shooting performance after scoring 40 points in Game 1.

Murray lifted Denver to a crucial 15-1 run that put them 96-84 ahead with just over five minutes left. He scored four of his six three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

"I love Jamal Murray," added Malone. "This is not just like I'm coaching him. We've been together seven years and been through a lot of ups and downs.

"To see him back playing at the level he's playing at, the first thought for me is just tremendous pride and just so happy for him. Because I saw the dark days coming back from that ACL injury.

"He needs to continue to do that. Obviously our goal is not done. We have to win this series. Our goal is to win a championship, and he's going to be a big part of that."

Jokic said about Murray: "He was special and he won us the game. He played 42 minutes, his energy was amazing. 

"Yes, maybe in the first half, he struggled to make shots. But when it mattered the most, he made shots and won us the game basically."

Game 3 takes place on Saturday in Los Angeles, with the Lakers unbeaten at home so far in the playoffs.

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