Jamal Murray has bounce-back game in Nuggets’ Game 3 blowout of Timberwolves

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
May 12, 2024

In games 1 and 2 of the series against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the defending champion Denver Nuggets looked nothing like the dominant team we’ve seen all season. Despite it being the playoffs and every game being extremely important, the Nuggets looked tired and uninspired. Nuggets’ point guard Jamal Murray, who had been extremely clutch in the prior series against the Los Angeles Lakers, looked nothing like himself.

In Murray’s defense, he has been playing with lingering injuries throughout the entire season. In Game 2, Murray shot a woeful 3-for-18 in a blowout loss. After dropping two games at home, Murray and the Nuggets would have to shake themselves out of their funk in front of opposing fans in Minnesota.

In the Game 2 blowout, Murray threw a heat pack on the court out of frustration. He would end up being fined $100,000 by the league. Because of this, Murray became public enemy number one in Minnesota. The second Murray stepped on the court, he was met with a cacophony of boos. In fact, every time he touched the ball, he was booed. Murray took this in stride though, and seemed to thrive off of the negative reaction he was receiving. He would finish the game with 24 points for the Nuggets.

“That definitely fueled me during the game,” Murray said on being booed. “And just keeps me in that mode. So it’s fun. I embrace that challenge, I embrace that moment. I probably deserved the boos, so I’m not shying away from it.”

Despite playing through a calf injury, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone saw some newfound energy from Jamal Murray who was now in his ‘villain arc.’

“He does kind of relish those moments where he’s a bad guy,” Malone said. “To me, that beginning of the game, you’re in hostile territory, and that’s kind of where you separate the man from the boys.”

Nuggets take Game 3 over Timberwolves in blowout fashion

Malone was clearly unhappy with the energy his team was playing with in the first two games. However, he and the Nuggets were not ready to waive the white flag yet.

After two miserable home losses, everyone had virtually written the Nuggets off for the remainder of the series. Instead of drowning out all the outside noise, Malone decided to use the words of the critics in an effort to motivate his team for Game 3.

“I had an edit made… of every talking head in this country saying that the series was over, the Nuggets are done, it’s a wrap,” said Malone. “I knew that this would maybe strike a chord.”

Clearly, the edit had some effect, as the Nuggets would play arguably their best game of the entire playoffs so far. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Michael Porter Jr. would all finish with over 20 points. Jokic would also be one assist shy of another triple-double. The Nuggets were also feeling themselves from beyond the arc, where they shot 53.8% from 3-point range.

At one point, the Nuggets largest lead of the night was 34 points. This lead would be too much for the Timberwolves to overcome, and the Nuggets would win 117-90.

With this win, the series has suddenly become much more interesting. The Timberwolves will have a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Sunday.