PHOENIX SUNS

Nuggets’ Jamal Murray ‘waiting for this’ in Game 1 win vs. Suns

Apr 29, 2023, 8:09 PM | Updated: 10:41 pm

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets outlets the ball while being guarded by Kevin Durant #35 of ...

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets outlets the ball while being guarded by Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns in the first quarter at Ball Arena on April 29, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray chased down a long rebound, dribbled behind his back between Phoenix Suns Chris Paul and Kevin Durant en route to a difficult layup over Durant in the fourth quarter on Saturday.

The Nuggets understood he was hot, and Murray hit back-to-back 3s a minute later to give Denver a 112-95 lead in the final eight minutes.

He screamed to the crowd, “We were waiting for this,” after the second 3, relishing a moment in his first playoffs since 2020 due to a torn ACL.

Denver took Game 1 125-107, as Murray hit more 3s than Phoenix as a team 6-5 by the time head coach Monty Williams pulled his starters with 5:09 left.

Murray finished with 34 points on 13-for-24 shooting, nine assists and two steals.

“I’ve been waiting for a while to be healthy, to be back and be playing at this level during this time of year.” Murray told reporters postgame. “It just felt good to feel it and have the crowd behind me.”

Murray was a problem for the Suns throughout the game at all three levels. He even yelled, “He can’t guard me,” after hitting a turnaround jumper over Landry Shamet.

But Murray hit a new gear in the fourth quarter of his first playoff game against the Suns after missing the second-round series in 2021.

“Jamal just continues to add to the legend of playoff Jamal Murray,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters after the game. “Some big, big shots. When they tried to go on runs, Jamal seemed to stop it every time.”

Murray entered the matchup off a heater, as he scored 35 points in a close-out Game 5 against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Round 1.

The Suns started Josh Okogie over Torrey Craig in Game 1 to add another defensive guard for Murray, but Williams said more changes will be needed.

“Let’s be honest, some of the shots he hit, I don’t think anybody could have stopped him tonight,” Williams told reporters postgame. “We’ve got to do something a little bit different in our schemes to keep him from getting the ball or getting it out of his hands.”

The Suns swept Denver in 2021, but this series is completely different with Murray in the fold and Kevin Durant on Phoenix.

The Nuggets held a double-digit lead in the entire second half in Game 1, but Phoenix dropped its first game of the opening round to the Los Angeles Clippers before coming back in a five-game win. This Denver squad is healthy unlike L.A., though, and it made quite the statement to start the series.

Phoenix’s chance to respond in Game 2 is set for Monday at 7 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com. 

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