Jamal Murray just couldn’t get the bad taste out of his mouth, and even a bite of pretzel he poached from a kid after tumbling into the stands in the third quarter wasn’t exactly satisfying.
“It was really dry,” Murray said.
Maybe it was just what Murray needed, however, helping spark his fabulous fourth quarter that fueled the Nuggets’ 114-105 comeback over San Antonio in Denver on Tuesday night, knotting their playoff series 1-1.
Murray’s late performance very well might have salvaged Denver’s season.
Teammates told him to keep shooting the ball when his shots kept rimming out. Finally, he found his touch, scoring 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.
“Everybody told me to stick with it,” Murray said. “I don’t think I scored a field goal until the fourth. I just stuck with it. They all believed in me.”
The Nuggets were in danger of losing a second straight game at the Pepsi Center after posting the NBA’s best home record (34-7) during the regular season. They trailed 78-59 late in the third quarter before closing the game on a 55-27 run.
Head coach Michael Malone “said we are a team that never gives up,” Denver center Nikola Jokic said. “That’s true. We never give up. We lost the first game. We were down 19. That’s all excuses. But we never gave up. There is something about this team. We have a heart. We’re never going to let you win so easy.”
It was looking very much like an easy win for San Antonio, which frittered away two 19-point leads.
“We gave up 38 points (actually, 39) in the fourth quarter. End of story,” fumed San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, who drew a technical foul during the Nuggets’ comeback.
Malone said he didn’t consider benching Murray because he didn’t want to crush his confidence.
Trail Blazers 114, Thunder 94: CJ McCollum had 33 points, Damian Lillard added 29 and host Portland took a 2-0 lead in its first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City. Maurice Harkless added 14 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Blazers.
Raptors 111, Magic 82: Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points, Kyle Lowry bounced back from a scoreless playoff opener with 22 and host Toronto routed Orlando, evening their Eastern Conference first-round series at one win apiece. Pascal Siakam had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who did not trail and led by as many as 34.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Jamal-Murray-scores-21-of-his-24-points-in-fourth-13773603.php.