Jamal Murray buzzer-beater caps Nuggets' 20-point rally vs. Lakers

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

DENVER -- Jamal Murray didn't even see the biggest basket of his career. At least not live, he didn't.

Murray swished a step-back 15-footer over Anthony Davis at the buzzer Monday night, giving the Denver Nuggets a stunning 101-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers and capping a comeback from a 20-point second-half deficit.

Murray tumbled into the Nuggets' bench along with Davis just as his shot fluttered the net and the roar from the crowd shook Ball Arena.

"I just lost my balance and fell. I think AD was in my way or somebody was in my way, and I just heard everybody scream -- and that's how I knew it went in," said Murray, who was mobbed by his teammates after his bucket gave the reigning NBA champions their 10th consecutive victory over the Lakers.

More importantly, it delivered Denver a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference series that shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday night.

Murray missed 13 of his first 16 shots and was easily the most flustered, frazzled and frustrated of all his teammates when it appeared the Nuggets would lose to the Lakers for the first time in 494 days.

"I told my teammates when I was struggling, 'I'm going to look for y'all,' and every single one of them told me to keep shooting," recounted Murray, who did just that in going 6-for-8 for 14 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 20 points.

"They told me to stay aggressive and keep looking for it, keep hunting, and when I had the ball with 2 seconds left, I knew once I had made a couple the next one should go down, as well."

Nuggets coach Michael Malone chose not to call a timeout after Denver'sMichael Porter Jr.grabbed the rebound off LeBron James' missed 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and the score knotted at 99.

"We got the stop. Tie game. Why let them get set?" Malone reasoned. "Because when they can get set and they switch out everything, you might not even get the ball in bounds. So, I wanted to make sure we could just flow into it and let our best players make plays."

Murray faked like he was going to take a 3-pointer, got Davis to close then beat him to his spot along the right baseline for a clear look.

"That's Jamal Murray right there," Malone said. "He can struggle, he can struggle, he can struggle. He sees one go in and he's never shying away from the moment, the spotlight. And that was just an incredible play."

Nuggets star centerNikola Jokic said Murray "made the tough shots today and he missed the easy ones. It was that kind of game."

Asked to go through that final sequence, Davis demurred, saying simply, "Jamal Murray made a shot," then standing up, dropping the mic -- and not figuratively -- and walking off from the postgame podium.

Jokic posted a triple-double with 27 points, 20 boards and 10 assists. Porter added 22 points for Denver, and Aaron Gordon put up 14.

Davis led the Lakers with 32 points, James scored 26 and D'Angelo Russell tallied 23 with a career playoff-high seven 3s, including six in the first half to help the Lakers build a 59-44 lead at the break.

The Lakers stretched their advantage to 68-48 two minutes into the second half, and they still led by 10 entering the fourth quarter.

"I don't have a 20-point play," Malone said. "You've got to just keep chipping away."

That the Nuggets did, finally tying it at 95 on Porter's 3-pointer with 1:15 left before the frenzied final minute.

"A 20-point lead in this league, it's not safe, especially against the defending champion," James said. "We've got to do better. But we had our chances."

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