Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Monday he expects point guard Jamal Murray to be “ready to go” come Tuesday’s winner-take-all Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Murray was leveled early in the third quarter on a layup by Clipper wing Paul George and was on the ground writhing in pain for a few tense moments. Though Malone hadn’t seen him yet Monday morning when he talked with the media, he said he expected that with rest until tomorrow night’s late tipoff Murray should be able to recover.
“Talked to him last night when we got back to the hotel,” Malone said. “He’d gotten through all of his testing. He’s banged up, he’s sore. Took a big hit, obviously, on a non-call. But, I think we all know this about Jamal, especially us back in Denver. He’s a tough, tough kid, man. Mentally and physically.”
After the no-call, George drained a 3-pointer on the other end and stretched the Clippers’ lead to 19 with 10:10 left in the third quarter. From there, the Nuggets methodically picked away at the lead, locking down on defense and treading a steady path to the free-throw line. Shortly after Murray was knocked to the floor, the Nuggets reeled off a 17-0 run.
After Murray went down, Malone asked his fiery guard if he wanted to come out of the game.
“I’ll give you a couple minutes, get yourself right,’” Malone told Murray in the aftermath of the fall. “’He said, ‘Coach, I’m good. If I come out, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to come back in.’”
So Malone played him almost the entire second half. After Murray’s crash landing, he scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists. He finished with 21 points on 9-of-13 from the field.
“I’ll be good,” Murray said after the game. “Just look ahead to Game 7.”