Utah Jazz again have no answer for Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, and it kills them in Game 5

Utah Jazz's Royce O'Neale brings the ball up during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP)

The Jazz couldn’t stop Jamal Murray.

That’s been the story in both of Utah’s losses — and, to be fair, in one of their wins — in this series: Murray getting nearly anything he wants en route to a high-scoring performance. On Tuesday night, it was 42 points total for Murray, adding eight assists. He also had a flawless game from a turnover perspective, just as he did in his 50-point performance in Game 4.

Once again, his scoring was tilted towards the second half, when he scored 33 of those points and made 14 of his 18 shots. The Jazz rotated through defensive strategies to contain him: Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles all got a turn on Murray. The Jazz also just tried to trap him with two players, but Murray split those double-teams. He was, once again, sensational.

“He got hot. He took advantage of a lot of situations. He’s a shot maker,” Mitchell said after the game. “No matter who you put on him, he’s a shot maker. Give him his credit, he’s worked at that.”

After Game 5, Mitchell and Murray are now 1-2 in the overall playoff scoring leaderboard, with Mithcell scoring 188 points while Murray scoring 154.

On this occasion, Murray scored from everywhere. Eight of his baskets came directly at the rim — the most impressive was a 360-degree spin to avoid the rotating Rudy Gobert and finish. Four of them came off one of his signature shots, the mid-range pull-up from the left side. And just as he did in his previous scoring outbursts, he got the 3-point shot going, making four of seven from above the break in the contest. Maybe you could nitpick the four free-throw tries, but when field goals are so cheap, who needs the freebies?

And he did it while clearly hobbling, due to an impact taken to his knee early in the second half.

“It’s a big bruise on my knee. I’ll be fine,” Murray said. “That’s the least of our worries. I got 36 hours to get ready for next game.”

The 23-year-old Canadian, drafted seventh overall just four years ago, has clearly chosen this series as his coming out party. Obviously, Murray was well-respected before — he earned a 5-year, $170 million extension from the Nuggets just a summer ago — but he’s never put up consecutive 40-point games before, never been quite this electric. That’s changed.

“We have the will to win. It’s as simple as that,” Murray said. “And that can carry you, that can take you places.”

Return to Story