DENVER – The Denver Nuggets, the second seed in the Western Conference, were down by 16 points to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night and about 18 minutes away from falling into a disaster 0-2 hole in the series. 19659002] Denver coach Mike Malone called for timeout with 5:45 in the third quarter with his team trailing 73-57 and conjured up the LA Clippers pulling off their big comeback win against the Golden State Warriors to motivate his team.
"I could see on some guys' faces which way is this game going to go?" Malone said. "… I reminded them what the Clippers did [Monday] night and how much basketball is left. It's only going to happen though if we believe, we commit, we fight and we attack, and the guys took it to heart ̵
Though the Nuggets didn't overcome a 31-point deficit like the Clippers did a night earlier in the 135-131 victory to shock the defending champions, their 19-point rally starting at the 4:28 mark in the third quarter was due for the third-largest blown lead by the Spurs under coach Gregg Popovich in the playoffs.
"We gave up  points in the fourth quarter, end of story," Popovich said after the loss. "… Paul [Millsap] and Jamal had a lot to do with that, obviously. They both hurt us badly, and we didn't have any answers for either one of them."
With much of the Nuggets team experiencing the postseason for the first time, Denver came out and fell behind by 19 in the second quarter. Millsap, one of the few Nuggets with playoff experience, scored 15 points in the first half and kept Denver from falling behind by much more.
Murray and Will Barton couldn't get to shot in the first three quarters, combination The Nuggets' Jamal Murray scored 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter on Tuesday. Bart Young / NBAE via Getty Images
After shooting 8-for-23 and missing all six of his 3-point attempts in Game 1, Murray remained in the hour after that contest to get up on the team's practice court Late on Saturday following Denver's 101-96 loss. In the final 57.7 seconds of Game 1, Murray missed a 3-pointer, misfired on an open 18-footer that would have put the Nuggets ahead and turned the ball over.
"Just mental bounce back," Murray said of what The two days between games were just for him emotionally. "Obviously wasn't happy with myself, frustrated. The way I played … I rushed everything. I was excited. I just got the crowd, the amazing energy, get to me.
" I wanted to go into Game 2 relaxed. "
Murray tried to set off the Pepsi Center at the start of Game 2 but what would have been a thunderous dunk early. At halftime, Malone told Murray to calm down and to just breathe.
" was so frustrated at halftime, not making shots, that he made his whole career, "Malone said." I just grabbed him and told him to take a deep breath. Every shot right now is like the end of the world. "
Meanwhile, Murray's point guard counterpart, Derrick White, was up his breakout Game 1 performance by making 7 or 10 shots on Tuesday and scoring all 17 of his points for the spurs in the first three quarters.
Gary Harris scored 14 of his 23 points in the third to keep the Nuggets within striking distance entering the fourth. Murray, who had missed all eight of his shots and had only three points after three quarters, walked onto the floor at the start of the fourth and looked at the sold-out crowd of 19,520.
Murray said seeing all the fans waving their playoff towels reminded him of his childhood dream of playing in front of
Then Murray caught four, hit eight straight shots coming in all kinds of variety – pullups, fadeaways, 3-pointers, then in a 19-second team, Murray delivered a one-two Punch that knocked out the Spurs out, hit a fadeaway 3 point r. And after Spurs forward Rudy Gay lost the ball, Murray came down and drilled in pull-up 3 in front of Popovich and the Spurs bench to give the Nuggets a 110-101 lead with 2:12 remaining as the Pepsi Center erupted.  Murray pumped his fist and pulled out his trademark "Blue Arrow" celebration at the scorer's table as the playoff towels were waving everywhere. "I got into the zone, everybody knows I get in a zone. I go crazy. I have a lot of fun. I love the game with a passion. I decided to pull up. "
The series is tied 1-1, and now the young Nuggets go to San Antonio looking to steal home-court advantage back.
" He needs this, "Malone said when asked if there was any consideration to Murray's benching in the fourth because he was cold. "… I didn't know the fourth quarter he was going to have, but I knew it was necessary to get these minutes, he needed to be out, I needed to show him that I believed in him."
"First of many for Jamal Murray," Malone added of the point guard's playoff performance. "I have no doubt."