Jamal Murray Scores 50 as Nuggets Defeat Donovan Mitchell, Jazz to Force Game 7

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray (27) goes up for a shot against the Utah Jazz during the first half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

At least one first-round playoff series will go the distance this year.

The Denver Nuggets forced a Game 7 in their Western Conference showdown with the Utah Jazz behind a 119-107 victory in Sunday's Game 6 at Walt Disney World Resort. Jamal Murray led the way in a second straight win, helping ensure his team will have a chance to advance in a win-or-go-home game after falling behind 3-1.

As for the Jazz, they missed their second straight opportunity to clinch a spot in the second round for the third time in four years despite a strong showing from Donovan Mitchell as the two guards went head-to-head once again.

Denver Nuggets @nuggets

The stuff of legends. 47 points for Blue Arrow!

Denver Nuggets @nuggets



Notable Player Stats

  • Jamal Murray, G, DEN: 50 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 17-of-24 FG, 9-of-12 3PT
  • Nikola Jokic, C, DEN: 22 PTS, 9 AST, 4 REB, 3 STL
  • Jerami Grant, F, DEN: 18 PTS, 2 BLK
  • Donovan Mitchell, G, UTA: 44 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 9-of-13 3PT
  • Mike Conley, G, UTA: 21 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB, 4-of-6 3PT


Jamal Murray's Hot Hand Propels Nuggets to Win

Denver's offense ran through Nikola Jokic for much of the regular season.

After all, the two-time All-Star is a unique matchup problem as a big who can score on the blocks, facilitate from the high elbow, draw defenders away from the rim with his three-point shooting and keep possessions alive on the glass.

However, Murray's performance has largely been the indicator of Denver's success in this series.

The Nuggets were 2-1 when he scored more than 35 points and 0-2 when he scored fewer than 15 in the first five contests. His toe-to-toe battles with Mitchell dominated the storylines, and it appeared as if the Nuggets would run away with things when he poured in 25 points in the first half alone.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

FROM ELIAS: Jamal Murray is the 2nd player in the last 20 seasons with three 25-point halves in a single playoff series. The other is Allen Iverson (2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals). https://t.co/IMsVGlzpRF

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jamal Murray TOO SMOOTH https://t.co/8UqQF4vYHz

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Murray called an iso on Spida 🔥 He has 25 PTS at halftime https://t.co/8SS5fdG5hw

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Murray is sizzling ♨️ 47 and counting https://t.co/CaiYhUUDEK

Murray was not looking to go home and impressed by gliding through the defense, finishing through contact and unleashing his smooth stroke from beyond the arc. Utah had no answers for him on the defensive end, and he notably dropped a step-back three over Mitchell when they were isolated in that first half.

Even when he cooled off some with four points in the third quarter, Jerami Grant took over some of the scoring from the outside while Jokic quietly racked up impressive numbers and found his own touch from deep.

It was Murray time again down the stretch, as his back-to-back baskets put Denver up by double digits with less than six minutes remaining before he hit multiple triples in the final five minutes. The biggest ones came with less than two minutes remaining to all but bury the Jazz's chances on Sunday.


Donovan Mitchell's Strong Performance Not Enough

This series has been the Mitchell show for the Jazz, and Sunday was no different.

However, much like in Game 1 when he exploded for 57 points, his team fell short. It was hard to blame the University of Louisville product, though, who continued knocking down threes, finishing through contact and taking over for stretches when his team needed a basket.

Utah fell behind by double digits in the first half with Murray controlling play before Mitchell brought his side back to within one in the third quarter by going right at Denver's defense. He tried putting his team on his back in the fourth as well by hitting step-back threes and attacking the lane, but he didn't have enough help.

utahjazz @utahjazz

slow-mo spida https://t.co/Vb1DlEQO13

utahjazz @utahjazz

whew https://t.co/1QWKb9uKsC

utahjazz @utahjazz

off the 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐨𝐰 #TakeNote | @spidadmitchell https://t.co/bc5q4Dl2XX

In fact, Mike Conley was the only other player on the Jazz to score more than 11. 

Mitchell will be firmly under the spotlight again in Game 7 as he attempts to prevent his team from blowing a 3-1 lead. Despite the disappointment of the latest loss, he has an opportunity to ascend into another level of superstardom in the coming days.

If he can continue his brilliance and direct a win-or-go-home victory in Game 7 and then battle a Los Angeles Clippers team that will surely send Kawhi Leonard and Paul George his way, Mitchell will go from the go-to option for the Jazz to one of the most feared playmakers in the league.


What's Next?

The decisive Game 7 is Tuesday.