Jamal Murray produced a “phenomenal” performance in the second half of Game 2, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after his team leveled its series with the Spurs.
Murray scored 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets came from behind to win, 114-105, ensuring they head to Texas for Games 3 and 4 with the series square at a game apiece.
It had been a frustrating night for Murray in the opening half, but after a pep talk from Malone the guard came to life to inspire the Nuggets to a memorable victory.
And Malone was delighted to see the 22-year-old deliver on the playoff stage.
“Phenomenal. I’m really proud of him,” Malone told reporters. “He was so frustrated at half-time, [he was] not making shots, shots he been making his whole career. I just grabbed him and said, ‘Take a deep breath, I believe in you,’ and for him to go out there and get 24 points, 22 in the second half was great to see.
“I had to stay with Jamal, make or miss, because he’s our guy.” #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/ZQJPp7pbcQ
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 17, 2019
“For him to have some success after Game 1 and the first half, really happy for Jamal for him to step up and basically close the game out with the shot-making he had down the stretch.
“The first of many for Jamal Murray, I have no doubt.”
Murray had vowed to “bounce back” after just 17 points and two rebounds in Game 1, and he thanked his teammates and the Denver crowd for helping him achieve that.
“In the fourth, when I stepped on the court, I just looked at the crowd, took it all in. I’ve always dreamed of playing a playoff game and that’s what got me started,” he told reporters.
“Everybody told me to stick with it, I don’t think I scored a field goal until the fourth, so I stuck with it and that [the crowd] got me going.”