(AP) DENVER — With each trip down the floor, Jamal Murray urged the audience to get louder and louder.
As if the Nuggets’ point guard needed to say anything. His performance was already shaking the arena.
Murray scored 34 points and sank six of Denver’s 16 3-pointers as the Nuggets defeated the Phoenix Suns 125-107 in Game 1 of their second-round series on Saturday night.
“He’s a bad man,” stated Nuggets coach Michael Malone.
Is there any reaction to this adoration?
“Thanks?” Murray stated. “Thank you very much…. I’m simply doing my thing… “I’m willing to go to any length to win.”
And perhaps show a nation that doesn’t often get to see the Nuggets — you know, because they’re generally on late — what the players have known all season: They’re talented and deserving of their top Western Conference seed. They don’t mind if the Suns, as the fourth seed, are considered the favourite to beat them.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, keep proving everybody wrong,” Murray declared.
Back-to-back reigns NBA MVP Nikola Jokic ended with 24 points and 19 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon had 23 points. However, this was Murray’s show, and he went 6 of 10 from 3-point range and frequently.
“Let’s be honest, some of the shots he hit tonight, I don’t think anybody could have stopped him,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
For the Suns, Kevin Durant had 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Devin Booker had 27 points and Chris Paul had 11. In a first-round series victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, Booker averaged 37.2 points per game.
“I thought they were just more physical, that they played with more force,” Williams said. “We’ve got to regroup and do a much better job of playing with pace on offence.”
The second game is scheduled for Monday night in Denver.
This is not the same playoff series that the Suns swept the Nuggets in the second round two years ago. Denver was without Murray at the time.
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