Nothing that Jamal Murray does on a basketball court is any surprise to him. The Nuggets rookie doesn’t just believe anything is possible, he believes it’s probable.
There wasn’t anything Murray didn’t do in a brilliant performance leading the Nuggets to a 122-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night at the Pepsi Center. You want dunks? The rookie had two highlight reel throw downs. You want 3-pointers? Murray knocked in a couple of those. You want assists? He had five of those, too.
Murray poured in a career-high 30 points, hitting from all angles as he made 10-of-14 shots to lead the Nuggets to a much-needed victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. They are one game behind the Blazers, who have three games left and were idle on Friday night.
“He has a confidence about him that most 19-year olds don’t have at this level,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “He’s not afraid of the moment, he’s not afraid of the opportunity. And he goes out there and plays with that swagger. You love to see it.”
They took three out of the four meetings from the Pelicans this season.
The Flow. Neither team got out to a great start, as both the Nuggets and Pelicans slowly worked their way into things. But when the game was tied at 14, the Nuggets started to find another gear. They went on a 14-5 run to separate things out. Nikola Jokic was brilliant in the first, scoring 10 points with six rebounds and the Nuggets took a 30-25 lead into the second quarter.
The Pelicans got some things figured out in the second quarter, opening things by outscoring the Nuggets 20-12. New Orleans eventually took a three-point lead before the Nuggets got a better foothold in the quarter. Denver closed it with a 9-5 run to grab a 51-50 lead at halftime. Anthony Davis scored 12 points in the second for the Pelicans.
The third quarter was where the Nuggets put the game away. Offensively, they looked as crisp as they had all game long. And the Pelicans couldn’t do anything about it. In the blink of an eye, the lead was 13, then 17, then 21. Emmanuel Mudiay scored eight points in the quarter and everyone got in the act. Gary Harris had 12 points in the period and Jamal Murray had nine points in the third. The Nuggets put 41 on the board, including six 3-pointers, and led 92-74 going into the fourth. And in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets simply coasted to the victory.
What it means. The Nuggets’ win moves them back to within one game of the Trail Blazers for the eighth spot in the West.
Deciding run. The Nuggets went on a 33-14 to start the third quarter, which proved to be the knockout punch.
Nuggets standouts. Nikola Jokic had his 38th double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebound. Jamal Murray finished with 30. Gary Harris added 20 points.
Stat of the game. 17 The Nuggets outrebounded New Orleans by 17, grabbing 50 boards to the Pelicans’ 33.
Next. The Nuggets stay at the Pepsi Center for their regular season home finale on Sunday at 3 p.m. against Oklahoma City.