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Jamal Murray leads Denver Nuggets rally in 108-103 win over LA Lakers

The guard, who missed the last two post-seasons after tearing a left knee ligament in April 2021, added that the Nuggets will need to show the same poise in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham believed that it was down to fine margins that his team lost.

“We did a great job defensively in the first half, a majority of the third and then kind of just got out of rhythm offensively and they caught fire,” he said.

“That combination usually leads to your demise.” AFP, REUTERS

DENVER – Often accused of being a one-man show, the Denver Nuggets showed on Thursday they might have the necessary support staff in order to deliver the franchise’s first National Basketball Association (NBA) title.

Jamal Murray scored 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter as a furious finale carried the team to a 108-103 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers, and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference Final series.

Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic racked up another triple-double with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, but it was Murray who starred when it mattered most.

He made six of seven shots, including four of five from three-point range, playing all 12 minutes of a final period in which Jokic and fellow starters Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Aaron Gordon went scoreless.

Murray’s exploits were enough for a Nuggets team who could not find a way past LeBron James and the Lakers through the first three periods at Denver’s Ball Arena.

“I missed some really good looks in the first half,” Murray, who made just five of 17 shots through the first three quarters, said on ESPN.

“But my team told me to keep shooting. I was getting the looks I wanted. The good thing was I didn’t stop shooting.”

James and Austin Reaves scored 22 points apiece for the Lakers and Japanese reserve forward Rui Hachimura delivered a brilliant 21 points off the bench, but the Lakers could not stem the tide once Murray got going.

Two days after the Nuggets used a dominant first quarter to take control on the way to a Game 1 victory, it was all tied up at the end of one period.

The Lakers pushed their lead to as many as 11 in the second quarter before coming up empty on 10 straight attempts, but they still led 53-48 at half-time.

Los Angeles, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds from Anthony Davis, pushed the lead back to 11 midway through the third.

But again the Nuggets clawed back, pulling level at 74-74, only for the Lakers to pull away again to lead by three, 79-76, going into the final period.

With 9min 21sec left to play, a Murray three-pointer gave the Nuggets the lead for the first time since the first quarter – and they did not fall behind again.

“They tested us,” Murray said. “They pushed the ball, they made shots late, they switched it up. I just thought we stayed disciplined, we were able to make the necessary adjustments.”