Thursday, July 25, 2024

NBA playoffs: Jamal Murray hits another game-winner, lifts Nuggets past Lakers in Game 5, closes series

Jamaal Murray has done it again.

The Denver Nuggets star, after his wild buzzer-beater in Game 2 of the series, hit another game-winner on Monday night to officially close out the opening-round playoff series over the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the game tied in the final seconds, Murray hit a masterful jumper over Austin Reaves from inside the free throw line to seal a 108-106 victory over the Lakers. His shot fell with four seconds left, giving the Lakers not enough time to respond as they ran out of time.

It officially won the series 4–1 over the Lakers, and sent them to the Western Conference Semifinals. They will face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who beat the Phoenix Suns in the first round series.

Murray, who was questionable Monday night with a sore calf, hit a buzzer-beater while falling out of bounds in Game 2 that put the Nuggets up 2-0.

“I'm speechless. It's a dream come true,” Murray said on TNT. “All these fans around you are doing it like this, I don't know. I don't know what to say. It's just our happiness.”

The Lakers, swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals last season, have now lost in the opening round of the playoffs twice in the past four seasons.

After taking a slight lead at halftime, the Lakers almost lost Davis at halftime to recover from an early hole thanks to a 12-0 run in the second quarter.

Davis collided with Michael Porter Jr. in the opening minutes of the second half and took a shot to his left shoulder. The two hit it in the middle of the lane, and Davis immediately fell hard on the court. He was down for several minutes, clearly in a lot of pain, before he finally got up and walked over to the bench.

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Neither shot looked harsh, but it hit Davis in the right spot. He remained in the game after a timeout but was seen clutching his neck and his arm dangling several times over the next few possessions. He had 16 points and nine rebounds during that stretch. He finished with 17 points and 15 boards.

Despite the injury, the Lakers pushed their lead to nine points near the midway point after a huge 3-pointer by LeBron James. Davies, meanwhile, has been largely ineffective offensively since. When he grabbed his 10th rebound of the night, he immediately clutched his shoulder in pain.

That nine-point advantage quickly disappeared for the Lakers. The Nuggets went on a 19-5 run minutes later that included a huge 3-pointer by Porter that sent him down the court.

Davis returned to the locker room late, but he returned to the court to start the fourth. Although the Lakers took the lead midway through the final period, Murray knocked down four quick points and threw a huge dunk over James, immediately bending over him under the rim.

The teams went back and forth in the final minutes, but Murray hit a huge 3-pointer to put the Nuggets back up by two points with a minute left. James hit a pair of free throws at the other end to tie the game at 106-106, setting up Murray's winner.

James finished just shy of a triple-double for the Lakers. He had 30 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the loss while shooting 11-for-21 from the field. Reaves added 19 points.

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Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points and seven assists, and he went 5-for-10 from behind the arc. Porter added 26 points, and Nikola Jokic finished with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists.

The Nuggets will now face the Timberwolves in the Western Conference semifinals starting Saturday in Denver. Minnesota swept the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night, their first playoff series in two decades.

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