Nuggets 3-pointers: Michael Porter Jr. was model of consistency in Game 5 win over Lakers

Initial thoughts from the Nuggets’ Game 5 win to the Lakers at Ball Arena in the Western Conference playoffs on Monday night.

1. Nuggets come out with a sense of urgency: The Nuggets finally won a first quarter. After Denver got outscored 122-95 in first in the previous four games, head coach Michael Malone challenged his team to play with a sense of urgency from the jump. They answered the call. The Nuggets outscored Los Angeles, 28-24, in the opening frame. Jamal Murray, who has been dealing with a calf injury, had the hot hand, scoring 12 points and shooting 3 for 6 from behind the arc. The quarter wasn’t easy for the Nuggets, as they had a brutal stretch where they missed five straight baskets and committed two turnovers, while the Lakers scored six unanswered points. Eventually, the Nuggets locked in, ending the first on a 10-0 scoring run.

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2. Playoff Murray returns: Murray did it again. After scoring the game-winning shot in Game 2, Murray sent the Lakers back home on Monday night, hitting the game-winning basket in the final seconds of regulation. On a night when Denver needed him to become the relentless scorer he is known to be in the postseason, he delivered. Murray recorded 32 points and seven assists to help his team advance to the second round. Earlier in the fourth, Murray found a lane to the rim then took flight. The 6-foot-4 guard threw down a one-handed, rim-rattling dunk over LeBron James. And after the Lakers tied the game at 97, Murray converted a layup to put the Nuggets back on top.

3. MPJ is Mr. Consistency: The moment is never too big for Michael Porter Jr. With the Nuggets down 71-65 in the third quarter, Porter ignited a spark. First, he powered to the rim for a layup. On Denver’s following possession, the sharp-shooting forward drew a foul while knocking down a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one point. Porter didn’t stop there. He caught a pass from Aaron Gordon before burying a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner to give Denver a five-point lead with 1:35 remaining in the quarter. While Denver has collectively struggled to shoot the ball well in the first round, Porter has been a model for consistency. He entered Game 5 with 53.1% field goal percentage while shooting 44.1% from behind the arc. On Monday, Porter scored 26 points, including 12 in the third quarter, and shot 66.7% from the floor.

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