The Denver Nuggets keep finding different ways to win.
Two nights after Will Barton‘s career-high 37 points and game-winning layup gave the Nuggets a victory over the Chicago Bulls, Denver was forced to look elsewhere for scoring with Barton struggling to find his groove on offense.
After Denver tied the score at 98-all on a Barton layup with 4:51 to go in the fourth, Jamal Murray hit a three a few possessions later to push Denver’s advantage to five. Then, two free-throws from Murray at the 2:24 mark of the quarter gave the Nuggets a seven-point lead. After a technical foul was subsequently assessed to Lonzo Ball, Denver was able to pull away for a 115-100 win.
48 hours after Barton’s heroics, Murray was the Nuggets’ closer tonight.
When asked pregame what he wanted from his point guards tonight, Nuggets coach Michael Malone responded with a simple request.
“Make a shot,” Malone said alluding to the struggles both of his young point guards have experienced throughout the first quarter of the regular season.
Murray took Malone’s words to heart and sunk two threes in the game’s opening minutes. He finished the first quarter with 14 of Denver’s 34 points and as a team, the Nuggets shot 9-18 from the field and hit five of their nine three-point attempts.
Murray, who had been mired in a shooting slump that saw the second-year Kentucky product shoot just 2-22 from three-point range over his past five games, finished with 26 points on 8-20 shooting. Murray also hit 5-8 from beyond the arc.
The 20-year-old did more than just make shots. Murray got into the teeth of the Lakers’ defense with ease, found open shooters, finished with four assists and captained a Nuggets offense that ran up 55 points in the first half.
Barton struggled but had some key fourth-quarter buckets to finish with 14 points, 13 of which came in the final period.
For the Lakers, Brandon Ingram led the way with 20 points. Los Angeles got 52 of their 100 points in the paint.
A 19-5 second-quarter run for Lakers helped Los Angeles take a 59-55 lead into the break. Then, a quick 7-3 Lakers advantage to open the third put Los Angeles in front by eight.
But Denver responded the quality defense in tonight’s second half where they limited the Lakers to just 41 points. Their last basket came at the 3:57 mark of the fourth quarter.