NBA

Jokic: Nuggets following 'phenomenal' Muray in NBA Finals

By Sports Desk June 08, 2023

The Denver Nuggets are following the "phenomenal" Jamal Murray in the NBA Finals, says Nikola Jokic.

Jokic and Murray became the teammates in NBA Finals history to record triple-doubles as the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 109-94 on Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Two-time NBA MVP Jokic had 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists for the first such game in Finals history, or at least the first since assists were tracked.

The triple-double was his 10th this postseason and 16th of his career, a number that trails only LeBron James (28).

Murray had 34 points and 10 assists and completed his first career playoff triple-double with a rebound with nine seconds remaining, and Jokic lauded his teammate for leading the Nuggets through the playoffs so far.

"He's playing phenomenally, I think, the whole playoffs," Jokic said of Murray.

"We're just following him and he's a really good leader. His energy is amazing, and we are just following.

"He's reading the game really well. He's getting guys involved, and I think he's mature, if that makes any sense, and he knows where to find the guys and how to control the game.

"It's not just us, it's the team, and like I said even before the series started, the Denver Nuggets need to beat Miami, not me and Jamal and whoever is on the other side. We as a group need to beat them."

Asked how proud he was of his record-achieving performance, Jokic replied: "To be honest, I just think it's a win because if you lose, nobody is going to even mention it. I don't care. It's just a stat."

The Nuggets' win came after they had lost Game 2 of the series at home.

Jokic added: "When you lose the game, of course it's a bad atmosphere, whatever, it's a bad momentum. But maybe it helped us to refocus and just be better in the details. But that doesn't mean that we can relax now or whatever. We need to have the same effort because they're going to be even better."

Nuggets coach Michael Malone eulogised over the performances of his star players.

"I think it's the first time in Finals history or maybe NBA history that two guys have 30, 10 triple-doubles, so that's incredible right there," Malone said.

"Regarding Nikola, nothing he does surprises me ever. This guy has shown time and time again that he's built for these moments. He thrives in these moments, the biggest stage. He did that once again tonight.

"I'm really proud of Jamal, and I could tell speaking to him yesterday, being around him the last 48 hours, that he was putting a lot of Game 2 on him, and it wasn't just him. It was me and every one of our players. It was collective.

"But that's what champions do. That's what warriors do. They battled back. I felt his presence all day long. Forget the stats for a second. I felt Jamal's presence, his energy, and he was here in the moment and for him and Nikola to do what they did tonight in a game that we needed to take, regain home-court advantage of the series was special to watch."

Reflecting on his performance in Game 2, Murray said: "I felt like I didn't bring the intensity that the moment called for. Even though I didn't play terrible, I felt like I could have done a lot more.

"Most people that have watched the Nuggets play, when I have a game like that, I'm most likely going to bounce back. Just one of those days. I think not just me but everybody bounced back. Everybody brought the energy. 

"Everybody was just coming into the game and wanting to bring the intensity that we're used to playing with."

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