Murray’s early exploits led Nuggets to escape from Clippers – Orange County Register

BY PAT GRAHAM

DENVER — Jamal Murray sparked Denver early by scoring 13 of his 18 points in the first quarter, and the Nuggets led by as many as 43 points in a 122-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.

The Nuggets picked the perfect time to deliver one of their best performances of the season. In a nationally televised game, Denver picked up the pace and showed why the team is tied with Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets shot 50.6% from the floor and finished the game with 28 assists.

“Wins like this give us a lot of confidence and build a lot of chemistry,” said Murray. “Sets standards for us.”

It wasn’t even Nikola Jokic who did the most damage either. The two-time reigning NBA MVP had 12 points, six rebounds and nine assists before taking the fourth quarter off.

Murray was one of seven Denver players to finish in double figures. He hit four of the team’s 14 3-pointers.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope helped fuel a 19-0 run in the second quarter to turn the game into a loss.

“I was with people who wouldn’t allow themselves to enjoy the victories, to enjoy the moment. I’m not that guy,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “But I’m not going to party and party either.

“That was a great win for us. A convincing win from start to finish. Everyone contributed. We’re first in the western conference. We’re not there yet. But we’re on our way. I like where we are and, more importantly, I like who I’m going there with.”

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the rest of the Clippers had an off-night shooting as they lost their fourth straight game. They shot 37.4% from the ground, including 5 of 37 from 3-point range.

Leonard finished with six points while George, playing with a sore hamstring, had three. Neither played in the second half and they were a combined 3 from 16 from the field.

None of the Clippers’ starters scored double digits. Norman Powell led Los Angeles with 13 points.

“We didn’t have a defensive attitude early in the game and that kind of hurt us,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “We have to get better defensively. We knew this was coming into play or they’ll embarrass you. Tonight was a tough game for us.”

Murray set the tone early with his 13-point opening quarter in 5-of-6 shooting. The dynamic point guard has gotten off to a shaky start as he works his way back from a cruciate ligament rupture that caused him to miss last season.

On the flight home from a loss in Minnesota this week, Malone sat next to Murray for a heart-to-heart chat.

“I was just trying to reach out to a player and show him support,” Malone said. “That’s just the relationship between Jamal and me. Constant communication, collaboration.”

TIP INS

Clippers: F Nicolas Batum sat out with a sprained left ankle. …G John Wall was inactive (management of left knee injuries).

Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar had 15 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. … Bones Hyland scored 16.

DEFENSIVE STALWART

Michael Porter Jr. was selected as Denver’s defensive player of the game. Malone cracked that Caldwell-Pope fell off his chair. Porter is trying to make progress on the defensive end.

BACK TO BACK

Murray is confident he can tackle Cleveland on Friday night.

“I didn’t do that, so just another part of my recovery, part of rehab that’s going well,” he said.

NEXT

clippers: Friday night in Minnesota.

nuggets: host Cleveland on Friday night.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/05/murrays-early-exploits-lead-nuggets-to-rout-of-clippers/ Murray’s early exploits led Nuggets to escape from Clippers – Orange County Register

Russell Falcon

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