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LOS ANGELES, USA – Jamal Murray exploded for 21 points in the 4th quarter as the Denver Nuggets staged a dramatic late fightback to clinch a series-leveling 114-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA on Tuesday, April 16 (Wednesday, April 17, Manila time).
Trailing 81-75 at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Nuggets looked to be heading towards a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven playoff series against the Western Conference seventh seeds.
But just as the Spurs looked to be taking a commanding lead back to Texas for Thursday’s Game 3, Murray erupted.
The 22-year-old Canadian, who had missed a potentially game-winning late jump shot in Saturday’s Game 1, finished with 24 points after making 8-of-9 field goal attempts in the 4th quarter to spark the win.
Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said he had never doubted Murray’s ability to deliver despite scoring only 3 points in the opening 3 quarters. Benching Murray for the final period was never an option, Malone added.
“I was going with him,” Malone said. “It’s so important for all of our guys, but especially for Jamal. He’s a young player, out there struggling trying to play the right way. I didn’t foresee the 4th quarter he was going to have, but I knew in my heart he needed these minutes. He needed to be out there.
“And I needed to show him that I believe in him. If I pulled him, he’s thinking ‘Does coach really believe in me? Does he have my back?’
“So I had to stay with him. Make or miss, he’s our guy. I care about him. He came through in a big way.”
Murray’s late burst of scoring proved the difference on a night when 4 other Denver players finished with double figures.
Gary Harris had 23 points, while Nikola Jokic added 21 for Denver, who also saw power forward Paul Millsap add 20. Monte Morris added 11 points from the bench.
San Antonio, who led 59-49 at halftime, saw DeMar DeRozan top the scoring, with 31 points.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points but only one other player, Derrick White, managed to crack double digits, adding 17 points. – Rappler.com