There will be a Game 7.
Courtesy of Jamal Murray's 50-point explosion, the third-seeded Nuggets stave off elimination for the second straight game and force a Game 7 against the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz. The series decider, set for Tuesday, will be the franchise's fourth Game 7 in the last five playoff series' dating back to 2012.
They trailed by as many as 10 in the first quarter but after taking the lead early in the second quarter, Murray and the Nuggets never looked back. The Jazz, led by Donovan Mitchell, kept fighting and brought the deficit down to as close as one point in the second half but Denver held on.
The performance by the 23-year-old Canadian was the story of the game. Here's more on his showcase and other takeaways from Game 6:
Murray makes & breaks records with 50-piece
Yes, the Nuggets' point guard was coming off scoring a combined 92 points in Game 4 & 5 but considering the break leading up to Game 6, it was a big ask for him to keep the momentum going. However, Murray set and broke multiple records with his game-winning, season-saving performance.
The triple, the reaction, for 50 and the W!#PhantomCam x #NBAPlayoffs- NBA (@NBA) August 31, 2020
Game 7: Tues. (9/1) - 8:30pm/et, ABC pic.twitter.com/AIH5zKt1oy
Registering his second 50-point game of the series, he became only the fourth player in NBA history with multiple 50-point games in a single playoff series (Donovan Mitchell joined this list earlier this series).
Donovan Mitchell x Jamal Murray- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) August 31, 2020
This is the first time in NBA history that two players scored 50+ points in multiple games of a playoff series. pic.twitter.com/WPjuTFykm2
He became the first player since Allen Iverson in 2001 to register three straight playoff games with 40 or more. In terms of a single series, he became the first player since Michael Jordan in the 1993 NBA Finals to have three straight playoff games with at least 40.
As per ESPN, Stats & Info, his 3-game points tally of 142 is surpassed only by two players in NBA playoff history - Jerry West (overlapping span in 1965) and Michael Jordan (1988).
His red-hot shooting helped him reach 50 points on just 24 shots - 70.8% (17-24 FG) shooting from the field and 75% (9-12) from 3-point distance. Those superhuman efficiency numbers made him the first player since Charles Barkley in 1994 to score at least 50 points on 70% shooting or better in a playoff game.
Down the stretch of this game, as the Jazz kept trying to make a run, Murray never let them get stops. He scored 21 of the Nuggets' 31 fourth-quarter points including a personal 12-0 run over a three-minute stretch.
Mitchell stars for Jazz again
The final quarter seemed like a 1-on-1 duel. While Murray carried the Nuggets, Mitchell did the same for the Jazz, scoring 17 of the team's 28 fourth-quarter points.
Despite playing 40 minutes, Mitchell was the only Jazz player barring Joe Ingles, who played at least 29 minutes, to finish with a positive +/-. At the final horn, his box score read 44 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals on 14-of-25 shooting from the field, 9-of-13 from 3-point land, and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line.
📹| @spidamitchell with 44 points & a career/playoff-high and franchise playoff-high 9 threes made in a game ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/cdTrjUPEEb- utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 31, 2020
He did receive some support, with four of his teammates scoring in double figures led by Mike Conley Jr.'s 21 points, but it wasn't enough.
In what's been an absolute treat of a duel with Murray, especially over the last three games, Mitchell now averages 38.7 points for the series, having scored 30 or more in five of the six games.
"Nobody's down. We're just pissed off because that was a winnable game," Mitchell said postgame.
Harris impresses on return, Grant shines for Nuggets
For the first time this series, Gary Harris suited up for the Nuggets. In fact, he was playing his first game since the restart and the two-way guard made an immediate impact. Playing just 20 minutes off the bench, he only had four points and three rebounds but was a +16 - the third-most among Nuggets players in this game.
Tough 😤💪 pic.twitter.com/czib84f86L- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) August 31, 2020
In his time on the floor, the team had a defensive rating of 88.4. To put that into context, the Nuggets had a defensive rating of 127.4 for the previous five games of this series. Small sample or a sign of things to come?
All Nuggets' reserves posted double-digit positives in the +/- category.
Torrey Craig, the biggest contributor among them was +18 in 21 minutes with eight points, six rebounds, and two assists. Michael Porter Jr. was a team-high +21 in his 28 minutes, Mason Plumlee was a +11 in 11 minutes.
Among the starters, only Murray and Nikola Jokic posted positive +/- numbers. The Serbian center finished with 22 points, nine assists, four rebounds, and three steals in 36 minutes of action.
Another key for Denver was Jermai Grant finding his shot, especially from long distance. He finished the game with 18 points (6-9 FG; 4-7 3PT), the most since dropping 19 in Game 1.
In their fifth playoff matchup ever, the Nuggets and Jazz will play a Game 7 for only the second time. The previous instance was Game 7 of 1994 Conference Semifinals.
This winner-take-all game is set for Wednesday, Sep. 2 at 6:00 a.m. IST.
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