Murray had 21 fourth-quarter points and was a almost flawless 8-for-9 from the floor as the Nuggets, who trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, ran away with a 114-105 win. Even if his shot continues to struggle, DeMar still has the ability to create offense for other players with crafty passes and effectively operating in the pick-and-roll.
Now this series is tied and it has all the makings of being a great one.
"We had to have this one", Denver's Paul Millsap said. Gary Harris got an extended run as DeRozan's primary defender and had plenty of success.
Murray's 21 fourth-quarter points represented the highest total seen in the National Basketball Association playoffs in a half-decade. In the final 57.7 seconds of Game 1, Murray missed a 3-pointer, misfired on an open 18-footer that would have put the Nuggets ahead and turned the ball over. He needs this. This is so important for all of our guys, but especially Jamal. You know, a young player, third year. In 2016, DeRozan's field goal percentage plummeted from 44.6 percent to 39.4 percent, in 2017 it fell from 46.7 percent to 43.4 percent, and past year in 2018 his average declined from 45.6 percent to 43.7 percent, which marks DeRozan's highest shooting percentage over five postseason appearances. However, Craig pointed out that the structure of DeRozan's style of play directly leads to a specific defensive game plan when guarding him.
"He's not a strong 3-point shooter, so you want to go under screens that take place around there because he's likely not going to shoot it. They all believed in me".
The sellout crowd at the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets went 34-7 for the best home record in the league, certainly wanted Jokic to take more shots.
When it comes to guarding Aldridge, Craig is more than aware of the damage that the seven-time All-Star can cause in the midrange and low post areas. "They stayed with it because we couldn't make a shot".
Nikola Jokić played a key role in slowing Aldridge down, as he used his size and quick hands to contest a lot of shots.
While the Nuggets didn't overcome a 31-point deficit like the Clippers did a night earlier in a 135-131 victory to shock the defending champs, Denver did overcome a 19-point deficit with 4:28 remaining in the third to hand coach Gregg Popovich something he doesn't experience often in his storied career. Mixing up the double team, making up the one on one coverage. ".I didn't foresee the fourth quarter he was going to have but I knew in my heart he needed to get these minutes, he needed to be out there, I needed to show him that I believed in him". Can they even the series before it heads to San Antonio? The two teams traded baskets for much of the fourth quarter, with the Nuggets tying the game with six minutes left and taking the lead for good minutes later.