Jamal Murray Pushes Denver Nuggets to 2-0 WCF Lead

The Nuggets took another step towards the NBA Finals.

BYBen Mock
Jamal Murray Pushes Denver Nuggets to 2-0 WCF Lead

For the first time in four matchups, the Denver Nuggets took a series lead against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Despite a late surge by the Lakers, the Nuggets survived thanks to a historic triple-double from Nikola Jokić.

However, the loss only served to make the Lakers hungrier. They had seen how specific adjustments, especially guarding Jokić with Rui Hachimura, had brought them back into the game. Furthermore, LeBron, who is 12-8 in playoff series where he lost the first game, appeared to take the loss personally. Speaking after the Heat's win over the Celtics, Shaq was confident enough to guarantee a Game 2 win for LA.

Nuggets Edge Another Close Game

The two sides came to play on Thursday night. The Lakers jumped out to a 6-0 start, maintaining the deficit as the Nuggets began to score. Once the Nuggets warmed up, the lead swung back and forth before the first quarter closed at 27-27. Once again, the Lakers got off to a better start, leading by as much as 11 in the second quarter. While the Nuggets were able to close the gap, the visitors still led by five entering halftime. However, just like in Game 1, it was a halftime adjustment that made all the difference. Despite trailing by as much as 13 in the third quarter, the Nuggets entered the final period down just three. The Nuggets slowly began to take over, powered by Jamal Murray's 23 fourth-quarter points. The Lakers simply didn't have an answer and watched their lead, and the game, slip away as they lost 108-103.

Jamal Murray was the star of the show, putting up a 37-point double-double but coming in clutch, especially in the fourth. While not his usual high-scoring self, Jokić still posted yet another triple-double with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. That makes Jokić the first player in the history of the playoffs to have four consecutive triple-doubles of at least 20 points. However, it was a terrible night for three-point shooting (beyond Murray's 6-for-14). The teams combined for a dismal 22-for-68 from behind the arc, with the Lakers going just 8-for-30. Part of this includes LeBron's continuing trend of ice-cold three-shooting in the fourth quarter during these playoffs. The Lakers veteran has now missed 19 consecutive fourth-quarter threes. However, LeBron and Austin Reaves led the Lakers in scoring, both knocking down 22 points. The teams will now head to LA for Sunday's Game 3.

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.