Jamal Murray scores another game-winner to lift Nuggets past Lakers in first-round series

Jamal Murray made a shot.


And in a playoff series that the Nuggets trailed more than they led on the scoreboard, they won four of five games.

Murray’s pull-up 14-footer with 3.4 seconds remaining handed the Nuggets a 108-106 Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and a first-round series win. Denver will advance to play the third-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round.

Despite a shaky shooting series, Murray made two game-winners at home. With the Nuggets trailing in Game 5, he also sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining in the fourth quarter after an Aaron Gordon offensive rebound in traffic.

Murray and Nikola Jokic became a beacon of efficiency again in clutch time, exchanging haymakers with the Lakers. On one smart possession, Michael Porter Jr. fed Jokic in the post from the right wing, and Rui Hachimura waited to send a double-team, fearing the hot hand of Porter. When he did, Murray anticipated the subsequent rotation to Porter and cut from the top of the key. He dunked on LeBron James for the lead. Murray finished with 32 points on 13-of-28 shooting.

Porter finished a remarkable series individually, rivaling Jokic as the Nuggets’ most consistent offensive player. He scored 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting including 5 of 7 from 3-point range in Game 5. He also contributed a pair of steals.

Murray seemed bothered by his left calf strain at times, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played on one ankle after spraining his left in the first quarter, and Anthony Davis spent most of the second half with his left arm glued to his side after a third-quarter collision with Porter injured his shoulder. For a series in the fifth game instead of the seventh, everyone involved was noticeably on fumes.

For Denver, that’s the cost of playing from behind every game. The Lakers didn’t max out at a double-digit advantage this time, but their lead got to 69-60 a few minutes into the second half. The effects of that injury to Davis hadn’t set in yet, though. Jokic sank a 3-pointer, Caldwell-Pope rebounded his own miss for a layup, and within minutes, Porter had a chance at a game-tying 4-point play. He missed the free throw, but Denver took the lead its next trip down the floor. It was a 14-2 run. The rest of the way was a back-and-forth affair.

Jokic finished with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists. James scored 30 to lead the way for Los Angeles. Davis was never the same after his injury.

The first half played out like a cruel twist of fate for the Nuggets. After shooting a dismal 17 for 68 (25%) on wide open 3s in the first four games of the series, they emerged knocking down shots and looking like their old selves again. They made seven of their first 14 attempts beyond the arc and went into the intermission shooting them at a 42% clip. Reggie Jackson got in on the action with an eight-point half. Not only that; the Nuggets used a 10-0 closing run to lead at the end of the first quarter for the first time all series.

They were checking most of the necessary boxes to flip a close-out game in their favor. Yet they trailed 53-50 at the half anyway.

Related Articles

Denver Nuggets |

Nuggets 3-pointers: Playoff Jamal Murray returns in Game 5 win over Lakers

Denver Nuggets |

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suffers sprained ankle in Game 5 of Nuggets’ playoff series vs. Lakers

Denver Nuggets |

Michael Malone: Jamal Murray calf injury was “worsened” by one movement during Game 4 vs. Lakers

Denver Nuggets |

Nuggets’ Jamal Murray questionable for Game 5 vs. Lakers with calf strain

Denver Nuggets |

Coach Michael Malone after Nuggets’ Game 4 loss to Lakers: “There is no panic”

How? One negative trend continued, and another popped up for the first time.

The Lakers outscored Denver 26-16 in the paint in the half, led by Davis’s 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. In a pick-and-roll with James, Los Angeles punished Jokic over and over. Jokic played at the level of the screen more than the drop coverage he had played earlier in the series, and James kept finding Davis on the roll.

Speaking of Jokic: He played arguably his worst half of the season. The Lakers continued to relentlessly double-team him in the post, timing their defensive rotations to perfection in order to mitigate Denver’s attempts to exploit the double-teams. Jokic didn’t try to back down Davis. He forced bad passes. With 3:32 left in the second quarter, he had four points, four field goal attempts and four turnovers. Only when he started playing more aggressively did the Nuggets flip the script.

Want more Nuggets news? Sign up for the Nuggets Insider to get all our NBA analysis.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *