Jamal Murray scored 33 of his 42 points in a second half where he played every minute and the Denver Nuggets avoided elimination by beating the Utah Jazz 117-107 on Tuesday night in Game 5.
The Nuggets trail the sixth-seeded Jazz 3-2 with Game 6 on Thursday.
Murray was unstoppable down the stretch in nearly matching his 50-point effort in Game 4. He hit 17 of 26 shots and had eight assists, including a pass to Nikola Jokic for a 3-pointer with 23.6 seconds remaining that sealed the win.
The dynamic tandem of Murray and Jokic clearly weren't ready to leave the NBA bubble just yet. Jokic had it going early as he scored 21 of his 31 points in the first quarter.
Murray took over late.
With the game tied at 101, Murray scored nine straight for Denver to help the Nuggets gain some separation. The trailed by as many as 15 in the third quarter.
Donovan Mitchell finished with 30 points while wearing a pair of bright, multicolored shoes. The sharpshooter is averaging 37.6 points over the five games.
Reserve Jordan Clarkson added 17 points and Joe Ingles found his rhythm with 13. Ingles had a combined two points in the previous two games.
The Nuggets turned in 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.
Jazz: Before the game, C Rudy Gobert had his two-year reign as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year come to an end with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo winning the award. Gobert had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. had 15 points. ... Jerami Grant had 13 points.
Jokic hit all five 3-pointers he took in the first quarter. He’s the third player in the series to have five in a quarter, joining Murray (fourth quarter in Game 4) and Mitchell (third in Game 2).
According to Basketball Reference, the playoff record for 3-pointers in a quarter is held by Antoine Walker. He had six by in the second quarter on April 28, 2002.
Although Gary Harris was upgraded to “questionable” for Game 5, that balky right hip sidelined him again. His last NBA game was March 11.
“I would never ask a player to go out there if he did not feel confident in his abilities," Nuggets coach Michael Malone explained.
Before their walk-through Tuesday morning, Malone and the Nuggets talked about the situation with Jacob Blake, a Black man whose shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday has roiled the nation.
“I am wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. Black Lives Matter is on the courts. But a T-shirt and a slogan on a court is obviously not doing anything to stop the vicious cycle that we’ve seen time and time again,” Malone said.