Look out, Minnesota: Jamal Murray is back, and the Nuggets might be too


Jamal Murray is back. 

With his Denver Nuggets facing a precipitous and historically unrecoverable 3-0 series hole in the second round against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Murray reminded everyone why he’s considered one of the top postseason performers in the NBA.

Murray opened Game 3 by scoring 18 points in the first half on 8-for-13 shooting, a massive turnaround from the disappointing combined two points he scored in the first halves of Games 1 and 2 on 1-for-15 shooting. 

Murray put the surging Timberwolves on their heels, making sure the defending champions weren’t going to be swept out of the playoffs en route to a 117-90 win in which they led by as much as 34 points.

For Murray, it was a much-needed strong performance following an uncharacteristic pair of games this series. 

In Game 1, he had 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Things got worse in Game 2, with him finishing with a woeful eight points on 3-for-18 shooting, with his frustration boiling over to the point that he threw a towel and a heating pad in the direction of a referee, leading to him being slapped with a $100,000 fine. 

Murray showed a completely different type of focus in Game 3, pouring in 24 points on 11-for-21 shooting, while getting four rebounds and five assists. 

There were multiple highlight plays. 

He made a reverse layup over three defenders. He stole the ball from Anthony Edwards and finished with a one-handed jam on the other end. He crossed over Karl-Anthony Towns and swished a stepback jumper.

While Murray dazzled in the Nuggets’ first round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, including making two game-winning shots, he has massively  struggled since. 

His postseason averages have plummeted from 26.1 points on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 39.6 percent from beyond the arc last year, to just 20.4 points on 37.5 percent shooting and 28.6 percent from deep this time around. 

It’s clear Murray had been hampered by a left calf strain. But with four days in between Games 2 and 3, he has gotten his rhythm back. 

Murray was sharp. He was aggressive. He was energetic. In other words, he finally looked like himself in this series. 

And that means the Nuggets can’t be counted out. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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