LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 33 of his 42 points in a second half where he played every minute and the Denver Nuggets avoided elimination by beating the Utah Jazz 117-107 yesterday in Game 5.
The Nuggets trail the sixth-seeded Jazz 3-2 with Game 6 tonight.
Murray was unstoppable down the stretch in nearly matching his 50-point effort in Game 4. He hit 17 of 26 shots and had eight assists, including a pass to Nikola Jokic for a three-pointer with 23.6 seconds remaining that sealed the win.
“Whenever he’s like that we are winning the game or we are really close,” said Jokic, who also didn’t sub out in the second half. “That’s what we need from him.”
The dynamic tandem of Murray and Jokic clearly weren’t ready to leave the NBA bubble just yet. Jokic had it going early as he scored 21 of his 31 points in the the first quarter.
Murray took over late after his team fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve all got a will to win. Simple as that,” explained Murray, who played through a bruise on his knee. “That can carrying you. That can take you places.”
With the game tied at 101, Murray scored nine straight for Denver to put the Nuggets up by nine with 1:20 to go.
Donovan Mitchell finished with 30 points while wearing a pair of bright, multicoloured shoes. The sharpshooter is averaging 37.6 points over the five games.
Reserve Jordan Clarkson added 17 points and Joe Ingles found his rhythm with 13. Ingles had a combined two points in the previous two games.
“I thought at some level, we just lost our composure when we were ahead,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Often, when a team’s making a run you get a little distracted, and that’s when we have to come together even more. Our guys know that, and we’ll come out ready to play the next game.”
The Nuggets turned in their best third period of the series when they needed it most. Trailing 63-54 at halftime, they outscored the Jazz 28-23. Utah has dominated the third quarter by a 142-92 margin before the game.