Lake Buena Vista, United States, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- Canadian point guard Jamal Murray scored 43 vital points on Tuesday for the Denver Nuggets’ 117-107 comeback victory over the Utah Jazz in the fifth Western Conference first-round playoff game.
The victory, the second of the series, allowed the Nuggets to force the sixth game, this Thursday, in which the Jazz, if they win, will seal the ticket to the semifinals.
Along with Murray, who emerged from the break to score 33 points in the second half, in which he played the full 24 minutes, Serbian center Nikola Jokic was in charge of pushing the team throughout the game and finished with 31 points, including 21 in the first quarter, with five of five 3-point attempts, six rebounds and four assists.
Murray was unstoppable down the stretch, nearly matching his 50-point effort in Game 4.
The Canadian point guard hit 17 of 26 shots from the field and had eight assists, including a pass to Jokic for a 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds remaining that sealed the victory.
Backup power forward Michael Porter Jr. had 15 points and five rebounds, and starter Jerami Grant reached 13 and caught six balls under the hoops.
With the game tied at 101, Murray scored nine in a row for Denver to help the Nuggets gain some lead, they had been as much as 15 points behind in the third quarter.
Guard Donovan Mitchell finished with 30 points as the Jazz’s top scorer, but without being able to define the triumph that would ensure a pass to the Western Conference semifinal.
Mitchell, averaging 37.6 points over the five games, was not consistent down the stretch of the game when Murray’s figure emerged.
Four other Jazz starters and backup point guard Jordan Clarkson, who was once again the best off the bench for the Utah team with 17 points, posted double-digit scores.
While the Australian forward Joe Ingles finished with 13, but all before the sinking of the Jazz came in the fourth quarter that they lost 21-35.
The Nuggets hit 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 Tuesday.
Before the game, the French center Rudy Gobert, of the Jazz, who contributed a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, was told he had been in third place in the voting for the Defensive Player of the Year award, having won the previous two seasons.
It fell to Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who won it for the first time. EFE-EPA