Jamal Murray erupts for 33, Nikola Jokic logs 17th triple-double in Nuggets win

Mike SInger, The Denver Post on

Published in Basketball

DENVER — If Jamal Murray was disappointed about being bypassed for the All-Star Game, he dwelled on it for five minutes.

Facing All-Star guard Steph Curry, Murray erupted for 33 points, and the Nuggets pounded the Warriors, 134-117 on Thursday night. Denver improved to 36-16 on the season, including 24-4 at Ball Arena.

Nikola Jokic authored his NBA-leading 17th triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 16 assists. Denver improved to 17-0 in games Jokic has registered a triple-double. Beyond the gaudy stats, it’s Jokic’s efficiency (he shot 9-of-13 from the floor) that has him in pole position for another MVP.

Aaron Gordon didn’t play Thursday night while nursing a sore ankle, but spot-starter Vlatko Cancar more than adequately replaced him. Cancar scored 17 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 18 to the offensive onslaught.

Curry led the Warriors with 28 points, but Denver’s second-half defense stymied Golden State’s 3-point storm.

Bones Hyland, the subject of rampant trade rumors ahead of next week’s trade deadline, didn’t play.

The Nuggets will host the Hawks on Saturday to try and bolster their first-place record.

Denver’s gloves came off in the third quarter when they unleashed their full arsenal of offensive resources. Jokic sliced apart Golden State’s defense with his bevy of sly passes and wily looks. His triple-double came with more than a quarter and a half left in the game. The Nuggets’ offense soared when they coupled his unselfishness with Murray’s assertiveness. Murray’s incessant movement wasn’t too dissimilar from Curry’s on the other end. His swiveled into the lane off hard drives and hoisted from outside at every chance he got.

Murray’s 17 third-quarter points spearheaded Denver’s 105-91 lead going into the fourth quarter. They’d outscored Golden State 35-22 in the third to stake their lead.


There was obvious disappointment from Nuggets coach Michael Malone when he met with the media only moments after it was announced that both Gordon and Murray hadn’t been named All-Star reserves. Disgusted with Gordon’s absence and all that he’s meant to this year’s success, Malone played one of the only cards available to him.

“Who cares?” he said when asked about a lack of respect across the NBA. “… Who cares what anybody thinks?”

After stumping hard for Gordon and Murray, Malone essentially said it didn’t matter since this iteration of the Nuggets had far bigger goals than anything of the individual variety. Malone said the only opinions that mattered were inside their organization.

There were no ambiguities as to what Malone was prioritizing heading into Thursday night. Against the Warriors, he said, it always began at the 3-point line and their dizzying version of offense.

The Warriors shot a scorching 13-of-21 from outside in the first half, each triple more demoralizing than the last. It built the Warriors an 11-point lead, which Jokic systematically steamrolled. By the time Jokic was done with the first half, the Nuggets had a 70-69 lead, and Jokic was flirting with another triple-double.

His 15-point, 10-rebound, seven-assist half was ruthlessly efficient. He had three other double-digit scorers (Cancar, Caldwell-Pope and Murray) along with him. Murray, in particular, was aggressive, but Cancar filled in seamlessly while Gordon watched from the bench.


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