Jamal Murray scores 34 as Denver Nuggets beat Phoenix Suns 125-107 in Game 1
Jamal Murray continued to boo the crowd, getting louder and louder with each trip down the floor.
As if the Nuggets point guard is also in need. His play was already rocking the arena.
Murray scored 34 points, hitting six of Denver’s 16 3-pointers, and the Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 125-107 on Saturday night to win the first game of the second-round series.
“He’s a bad guy,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone.
Any response to that compliment?
“Thank you?” Murray said. “Praise it. … I’m just playing my game. … I’m doing everything I can to win.”
And maybe show a nation that doesn’t always get to see the Nuggets — you know, because they usually come so late — what the players have known all season: They’re talented and their top seed in the Western Conference. are eligible for. It doesn’t matter to them whether the Suns, as the fourth seed, are the trendy pick to beat them.
Murray said, “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, proving everybody wrong.”
Back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had 24 points and 19 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon finished with 23 points. But it was the Murray Show, where he went 6 of 10 from 3-point land and often encouraged more noise from an already raucous crowd.
Suns coach Montey Williams said, “To be honest with the shots he made tonight, I don’t think anyone could have stopped him.”
Kevin Durant scored 29 points and grabbed 14 boards for the Suns, with Devin Booker adding 27 points and Chris Paul adding 11 points. Booker averaged 37.2 points in the first round series victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Williams said, “I thought they were more physical, played with more force.”
Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.
This is a different playoff series than two years ago, when the Suns swept the Nuggets in the second round. After that, Denver was without Murray after tearing his ACL.
Now healthy, Murray is flashing his 2020 form inside the NBA bubble that helped Denver advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Malone said, “Jamal continues to add to the legend of the playoffs Jamal.”
Murray made the play of the night when he stole a pass, split defenders Paul and Durant at top speed and knocked in a layup over the glass. It brought the capacity crowd to its feet.
The dynamic point guard was far from getting the fans excited, hitting a 3-pointer with only 7 minutes remaining. He begged them to make more noise, even putting his hands over his ears.
Leading 106–95 with 7:40 remaining, the Nuggets went on a 14–0 run to end the game. Denver led by more than 25 and improved to 38–7 at home through the regular season and playoffs.
Durant cut off the question of whether he was surprised by the Nuggets.
Because he isn’t.
“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. They’ve got a two-time MVP. They’ve got a deep team. I’m not surprised,” Durant said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The difference was at the 3-point line, where the Nuggets beat the Suns 48–21. That and turnovers, where the Suns had 16, including seven by Durant.
Durant said, “I have to be more careful with the ball.” “I either have to shoot the ball or make the right pass. … I’ve got half my turnovers. We’ll be fine. I think we just have to play with confidence, shoot with confidence and See what happens next game.
Sons: Williams used his challenge early – with 55.4 seconds left in the first quarter – when Booker was called for charging on a made basket. It worked out as the call was overturned and Booker made the free throw, which he did. … Deandre Ayton scored 14 points. … Durant has 4,730 playoff points to move past Karl Malone (4,761) for seventh on the NBA’s post-season leaderboard.
Nuggets: Malone called a timeout 32 seconds into the second half for his team to settle. Malone said the conversation was simple: “Get up,” he said. … Bruce Brown had 14 points.
As Paul celebrates his 38th birthday next week, Malone said one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is Paul’s elite competition.
“He’ll be 55, playing in a rec league in North Carolina, and he’s going to be the same guy,” Malone said. “The guy hates to lose, is hyper-competitive and one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever come across. … At any stage of his career, he still finds a way to influence victory at a high level.” .