NBA Basketball

Nuggets seek rare road victory against Spurs

(Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

San Antonio split the first two games in Denver, but the Spurs headed home for Game 3 on Thursday night feeling like they let a bigger opportunity slip away against the second-seeded Nuggets.

For that, they can thank enigmatic Denver point guard Jamal Murray, who has emerged as the most important player in this first-round Western Conference series -- a series that nearly became a San Antonio walk-over but now seems destined to go the distance.

Murray scored 24 points Tuesday and was the difference-maker as Denver roared back from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to even the series with a 114-105 win.

Murray struggled at the end of Game 1, missing a key shot and then committing a turnover in the final minute of a 101-96 San Antonio win on Saturday. He began Game 2 by missing all eight shots in the first half, but caught fire -- and then some -- in the fourth quarter as he went 8 of 9 from the floor and scored 21 points.

The Spurs managed just 23 points as a team in that pivotal period and headed home to regroup in the Alamo City, where they were 32-9 this season.

Murray's eight baskets in the fourth quarter Tuesday matched the number of shots he made in the previous seven quarters in the series combined. Denver coach Michael Malone said after the win that he saw Murray playing the correct way even when he was struggling.

"Jamal was trying to play the right way," Malone said. "I didn't foresee the fourth quarter he was going to have, but I knew in my heart he needed to get these minutes. I needed to show him I believed in him. That's powerful.

"Really proud of him. He was so frustrated at halftime. It was great to see him have some success."

The Spurs led Tuesday's game from the middle of the first quarter to the middle of the fourth, and often by double digits. DeMar DeRozan scored 31 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 24, but it wasn't enough to overcome Murray's late heroics.

"We made a few mistakes, offensively, whether it was a turnover, didn't execute, didn't get a good look," DeRozan said. "They came down with a lot of momentum, (Jamal) Murray got extremely hot, made some big buckets down the stretch."

Only four teams in NBA history have recovered to win a best-of-7 series after falling behind 2-0 at home. Murray's sudden turnaround made sure Denver would not carry that assignment with it to Texas.

The task is still a tall one for the Nuggets, who have lost 13 straight games in San Antonio, a streak that dates back to March 2012.

"We got Game 1. We fought, tried to get Game 2, but we got homecourt shifting our way," DeRozan said. "Now, it's on us to go home and do what we need to do, understand if we take care of home, like we've been doing all year, we can come back here with an opportunity. We feel great where we're at. We understood it wasn't going to be a cake walk."

--Field Level Media

Updated April 17, 2019

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Teams Score Time
Interleague
Cleveland   7:10pm
New York  
Philadelphia   7:10pm
Boston  
Toronto   10:10pm
Los Angeles  
American League
Kansas City 5 F
Baltimore 4
Seattle 9 F
Tampa Bay 3
Los Angeles 7 10th
Texas 7
Chicago 6 F
Minnesota 4
Detroit 4 F
Houston 5
Los Angeles   2:05pm
Texas  
Kansas City   7:05pm
Baltimore  
Seattle   7:10pm
Tampa Bay  
Los Angeles   8:05pm
Texas  
Chicago   8:10pm
Minnesota  
Detroit   8:10pm
Houston  
New York   10:07pm
Oakland  
National League
Washington 13 F
Pittsburgh 0
San Diego 3 F
Cincinnati 2
Milwaukee 0 F
St. Louis 3
Colorado 1 8th
Arizona 2
Washington   7:05pm
Pittsburgh  
San Diego   7:10pm
Cincinnati  
Miami   7:20pm
Atlanta  
Milwaukee   7:45pm
St. Louis  
San Francisco   8:05pm
Chicago  
Colorado   9:40pm
Arizona  
Teams Score Time
San Francisco 24 0:44 4th
Denver 15
BMW Championship
Pos Name Score Thru
1 Justin Thomas -25 F
2 Patrick Cantlay -22 F
3 Hideki Matsuyama -20 F
4 Tony Finau -18 F
5 Jon Rahm -16 F
5 Brandt Snedeker -16 F
7 Corey Conners -15 F
7 Lucas Glover -15 F
9 Kevin Kisner -14 F
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT BRISTOL
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 11 Denny Hamlin 1
2 95 Matt Dibenedetto 7
3 2 Brad Keselowski 13
4 18 Kyle Busch 31
5 9 Chase Elliott 6
6 42 Kyle Larson 2
7 14 Clint Bowyer 20
8 41 Daniel Suarez 18
9 1 Kurt Busch 4
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT BRISTOL
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 2 Tyler Reddick 38
2 98 Chase Briscoe 6
3 23 John Hunter Nemechek 9
4 51 Jeremy Clements 5
5 22 Austin Cindric 1
6 08 Gray Gaulding 13
7 61 Timmy Hill 21
8 7 Justin Allgaier 3
9 1 Michael Annett 15
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT BRISTOL
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 24 Brett Moffitt 1
2 51 Chandler Smith 7
3 4 Ross Chastain 2
4 52 Stewart Friesen 3
5 98 Grant Enfinger 14
6 2 Sheldon Creed 24
7 88 Matt Crafton 11
8 99 Ben Rhodes 4
9 4 Todd Gilliland 17