Nuggets’ Jamal Murray hits game-winner to stun Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers in Western Conference thriller

Nuggets’ Jamal Murray hits game-winner to stun Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers in Western Conference thriller

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The Denver Nuggets i Portland Trail Blazers they always seem to produce magic when they step on the court together, and Thursday night’s thriller would fit right in with their classic instant quadruple-overtime game in the 2019 playoffs and the double-overtime affair of the 2021 postseason.

As the final contest of a light night of three games, these teams took center stage and closed the show in style. The lead changed hands an impressive nine times in the last three minutes, including four times in the last 30 seconds, before Jamal Murray hit a step-back 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds on the clock to give the Nuggets a 121-120 victory in Portland.

A surge early in the fourth quarter gave the Blazers an 11-point lead, but the Nuggets quickly countered to get back into the game. with Nikola Jokic resting, Murray took over and scored nine points in a two-minute span to cut the deficit to one and force a Blazers timeout. From there, the teams traded bucket after bucket.

Fast forward to the last minute, which is when the action really heated up. Anfernee Simons knocked down a mid-range jumper to put the Blazers ahead, 117-116, with 28.6 seconds to play. Coming out of the timeout, the Nuggets tried to drive to Jokic, who got lost on his drive but was rescued by a Aaron Gordon Tip-in that brought the Nuggets back within a point.

The Blazers played it straight with no timeouts and pushed the ball back down the floor, where it appeared to be Dame Time. He sank one of his trademark step-back 3-pointers to cap a 40-point night and give the Blazers a 120-118 lead with 9.3 seconds on the clock, then told the Nuggets to call a timeout.

Unfortunately for Lillard, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone took his advice and crafted the game-winning play from Murray, who had as much ice in his veins as the Blazers star. Murray wasn’t at his most efficient for most of the night, but he finished with 21 points and eight assists, and had by far his biggest moment since returning from his torn ACL.

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