Canada basketball

Nuggets continue to roll as Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic play their parts to perfection

NBA

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Apr 8, 2021

The Denver Nuggets are 33-18. They’re fourth in the Western Conference. They’ve won 16 of their last 19 games and seven straight. They’ve got one of the top MVP candidates in Nikola Jokic, an emerging second year star in Michael Porter Jr. and one of the smoothest shooters in the league with Jamal Murray. They also added to their roster when they traded for Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline. Through seven games, Gordon has fit in seamlessly with his new team. Things are starting to roll for the Nuggets, who defeated the San Antonio Spurs 106-96 on Wednesday for their seventh consecutive win, despite Murray sitting with a sore left knee. It’s a pretty good time to be a Nuggets fan.

Though Murray did not play on Wednesday, he has been a huge part of Denver’s success this season. His 23-point, eight-rebound, two-assist effort against the Los Angeles Clippers, helped the Nuggets pull out a 101-94 victory on Thursday. Three days later he added 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in a 119-109 win against the Orlando Magic. Through 47 games played this season, Murray is averaging 21.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 35.5 minutes per game.

Murray has increased his scoring average each year of his five seasons in the league since being drafted by Denver with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. After a standout postseason in the NBA Bubble last year where the Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals before falling to the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, Murray left his mark on the playoffs. With four 40+ point postseason performances last year, including two separate 50-point performances in 19 postseason games in the bubble, the Kitchener native showed everyone that his game shines most under the league’s brightest lights.

He added another 50-point game to his resume earlier this season in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite his seemingly effortless ability to put huge numbers on the board, perhaps what is most important about Murray’s game is that he’s content to do whatever is necessary to help his team win on any given night. In a season where Jokic is averaging 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game, the unselfish combo of Murray and Jokic has been crucial to Denver’s success. With six weeks remaining in the regular season, Jokic at the top of the MVP ladder and the added depth Gordon brings, all eyes will be on the Nuggets to see if they can continue to roll.

Performances of note

  • The Memphis Grizzlies have won four in a row for the first time this season since the team had five games postponed because of health and safety protocols in January. Dillon Brooks has had a hand in all of those victories, including a brilliant 28-point performance in a 124-112 win over the Miami Heat where he scored his 28 points in 31 minutes, shot 10-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-9 from the three-point line as the Grizzlies snapped a four-game Heat winning streak. Brooks is averaging 16.3 points in 29 minutes per game this season.
  • Kelly Olynyk has continued his scoring run for the Houston Rockets. In seven games with the Rockets since being traded from the Miami Heat at the trade deadline, Olynyk has averaged 17.4 points per game. He is shooting 60 percent from the floor in that stretch, including 42 percent from beyond the arc. Olynyk’s season average is up to 11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
  • The New York Knicks had a rough week where they went 0-2, but there were still some positives to take away, like the continued play of RJ Barrett. In a close 114-112 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Barrett finished with 22 points and four rebounds, while shooting 7-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Two days later, in a 101-99 loss to the Boston Celtics, Barrett was on fire, scoring 29 points on 10-for-14 field goals, including a ridiculous 6-for-6 from beyond the three-point line.

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker had been making the most of his opportunities with increased time in New Orleans. After scoring in double figures in his last seven games, the sophomore guard sprained his ankle during the second quarter of a Pelicans 122-115 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday. The injury came just days after Alexander-Walker erupted for 31 points and eight rebounds in an overtime loss to the Orlando Magic.

Game of the Week

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets

Monday, April 12th, 10 p.m. ET

Basketball fans will want to tune in for the Warriors heading to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Monday night. Yes, the Warriors are looking up at the standings, but a monster 41-point performance from Steph Curry to lead Golden State over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday is just one reason why you’ll want to be watching this one. Any time Curry is on the floor is reason enough to watch. Add in Canadian sharpshooter Jamal Murray, MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, star sophomore Michael Porter Jr., and the rest of the Denver Nuggets roster and that game becomes a must-watch.