Hot-shooting Murray leads Nuggets against Grizzlies
Murray exploded for a career-best 48 points Monday night when the Nuggets beat the Boston Celtics for a fifth consecutive win.
The 21-year-old drew the ire of several Celtics players, including Kyrie Irving, by taking a 30-foot shot with two seconds remaining in an attempt to surpass 50. The Nuggets had been running out the clock without resistance from the Celtics at the time.
Murray apologized afterward, noting, “I think my emotion took over, as it normally does when I get going like that. No disrespect to the Boston organization, the Boston fans for that last shot. I just had it in my mind I was going for 50.”
Murray scored a total of just 51 points last season in four meetings with the Grizzlies, who haven’t allowed a 50-point scorer since Kobe Bryant had 53 in March of 2008. Murray shot just 31.4 percent overall and 3-for-19 on 3-pointers against Memphis last year.
He had nine and 16 points when the Nuggets split games at Memphis.
Nikola Jokic was the driving force in Denver’s 3-1 win in the season series last year, going for a pair of double-doubles, one with 28 points and 13 rebounds, the other with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The Grizzlies, who beat Denver 101-94 the last time the clubs met in Memphis last March, have opened 3-0 at home this season, winning by 14, 21 and 12 points.
They are coming off consecutive losses at Phoenix and Golden State on a three-game Western swing that began with a win at Utah.
“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at, with where we have come this early in this season,” Grizzlies star Mike Conley told reporters after Monday’s loss to the Warriors. “Now it’s all about putting it together. Putting it together for four quarters, every night, every game, consistently, and we have a shot to be a good team.”
Both teams have benefitted from surprisingly good depth in recording winning records early in the season.
Led by Trey Lyles and Juan Hernangomez, the Nuggets enjoyed a 36-26 scoring advantage off the bench in the 115-107 win over the Celtics.
Lyles scored in double figures for the sixth time this season with 13 points, while Hernangomez’s eight points gave him 39 in his last three games.
Denver’s reserves rank sixth in the NBA this season in cumulative plus/minus with plus-27.
The Grizzlies’ reserves, meanwhile, have been one of the most potent groups in the league, averaging 44.4 points per game (fifth best in the NBA) on 50.2 percent shooting (fourth-best).
The Nuggets’ lone loss of the season came on the road in a 121-114 decision against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 25.