Nuggets' Nikola Jokic praises Jamal Murray as 'our very best player'

DENVER -- After making his second 3-pointer in a 28-second span midway all the way through the fourth quarter that essentially buried the Phoenix Suns in Recreation 1, Jamal Murray stood at halfcourt throughout the next timeout and implored the home crowd to rise up and get loud .

"That's what we have been having a look ahead to!" Murray yelled two instances, pointing his arms against the court docket docket.

Murray and the Denver Nuggets made an impressive remark Saturday and reminded everyone that they are the very best seed inside the Western Conference with a 125-107 loss over the Suns at Ball Arena.

"Those moments, when you dream about it as a kid, you try to replay it inside the backyard," Murray mentioned as the arena went wild. "I'm merely counting down [final seconds for a winning shot] or actually really feel the facility or hit that massive shot and pay attention to the crowd so loud, you might be dwelling for those moments and you want to get some of the out of those moments.

"And I've been able a while to be healthy to go back once more and play at this level and this time of 12 months."

Murray endured his playoff streak with 34 problems and 9 assists. He hit six 3-pointers, then again his consecutive 3-pointers inside the fourth quarter halted the Suns' comeback. Phoenix two instances decrease a 17-point halftime lead to 10, only for Murray and the Nuggets to halt its run.

"Jamal merely keeps together with to the legend of 'Playoff Jamal Murray,'" Denver instructor Michael Malone mentioned. "He's a nasty man. I suggest, Jamal Murray lives for this.

"I will can help you know something, the overall two years have been tough on account of we didn't have him. Two years prior to now we have been overwhelmed by means of the ones guys [the Suns] in the second round, and ultimate 12 months we out of place to the later world champions [Golden State] inside the first round. When Jamal Murray is healthy, fit and full, everyone knows what he is in a position to."

The second game is Monday at the Ball Arena.

After tearing the ACL in his left knee in April 2021, Murray overpassed all the 2021-22 season. He was once as soon as made up our minds to remind everyone he would possibly simply do this time of 12 months. The overall time he carried out inside the postseason, he averaged 26.5 problems and 6.6 helps to keep with game while taking pictures 50.5% from the sector in primary the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals inside the 2020 Orlando bubble.

Murray knowledgeable ESPN forward of the postseason that "Bubble Murray" isn't the most efficient he's ever been and that he "thinks it was once as soon as just the start."

To this point, Murray has scored 34 or further problems in 3 of his six playoff video video games. He scored 35 in Recreation 5 of the first-round elimination of the Minnesota Timberwolves and followed that up along side his Recreation 1 potency against the Suns.

"He takes phase in incredible," mentioned reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who had 24 problems and 19 rebounds. "He's indubitably showing what he is in a position to. He's our very best player, and we're following him now."

Murray had 13 uncontested images, some of the in a game of his playoff profession, in step with ESPN Stats & Knowledge. None was once as soon as further of an issue than when he delivered a playground-like climax inside the fourth.

Murray caught a chronic rebound and immediately dribbled in opposition to the basket. Sandwiched between Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, Murray switched the ball from his correct hand to his left to prevent Paul from stealing the ball. With Durant striking to his left, Murray switched palms over again forward of fixing a difficult layup high off the glass over Durant's outstretched arm, extending the Nuggets' lead to 106-92 with 8:21 remaining inside the game.

Murray mentioned he practiced the switch over and over again emerging up in Kitchener, Ontario.

"I watched a large number of Michael Jordan emerging up," Murray mentioned. "My dad and I studied him and that is the reason the explanation where it comes from. I merely watch film and wish to do it inside the game and in practice [it] out on the court docket docket in Kitchener on the concrete, making an attempt all that stuff on the double hoop."

Murray saves a couple of of his very best performances for the Suns. With Saturday's win, Denver is 18-3 against Phoenix in video video games Murray has carried out, along side the postseason. His profession high inside the commonplace season in opposition to 1 opponent (21.1 PPG) were given right here against the Suns, in step with ESPN Stats & Knowledge.

"Let's be honest, some of the ones images he hit, I do not imagine someone would possibly simply prevent him this night time," Suns instructor Monty Williams mentioned. "Alternatively we wish to do something a little bit different in our scheme to prevent him from getting the ball or getting the ball out of his palms."

The Suns will try to slow down Murray and keep pace with the Nuggets from behind the arc in Recreation 2. Denver made 9 further threes than Phoenix and had 14 further makes an strive.

"Having a look at the stats, they got 100 images and we got 84," Durant mentioned. "They made 16 threes, we made seven... I simplest had one be in agreement and seven turnovers. You could be now not going to win basketball video video games like that."

Entering the gathering, the Suns have been most popular to win irrespective of being a 4-seed. Murray and the Nuggets are willing to show that this is their moment.

Everyone knows what we are in a position to, Murray mentioned. “I do not know why all of you [are] he asks us as although we are stunned. We are happy [in] what can we do and [yet have] to give protection to up proper right here as although we now have no longer carried out like this all season.

"So we're going to keep doing what we're doing, keep proving everybody improper and take it game by means of game."

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