Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray admits he would have been devastated had Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley hit a game-winning shot in Game 7. The Nuggets beat the Jazz 80-78 to set up a Western Conference semifinal against the Los Angeles Clippers after Conley missed a three-pointer for the win.
"Man ... first off, if we lost the game on that layup, that would've been so bad," Denver's Jamal Murray told Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter, as quoted on ESPN. "Mike almost hit that. I was looking at that shot like, 'Man, if this goes in, I'm going to be heartbroken.'
" Nikola Jokic came up big for the Nuggets in Game 7, scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. "Dude's a joke," Murray said of Jokic. "He does everything. Post up, he shoots it, he passes, he pushes the pace, he's smart, and we definitely needed him today.
"He made clutch baskets and just kept us poised. Even when I didn't have it going or I missed some bunnies or we messed up on defense and they made their push, especially in the third quarter. He was our leader for that second half, and he did it all, so, he's gonna be a Hall of Famer one day."
Jokic knows how close the Nuggets were to packing from the bubble and going home. "I bet we were cussing him out the full [time] that Mike [went to] shoot the 3," Jokic said. "We are laughing right now. But it could be tragic."
Coach praises Murray and Jokic
"We are not in a Game 7 without Jamal, but quietly, Nikola Jokic was having an outstanding series, as well," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "And you knew that they would take away Jamal Murray; they tried to do different things tonight, that was their adjustment.
We were prepared for that. We knew they would try to get the ball out of his hands. That is when you need Nikola to step up." The Nuggets appeared to be done but then they recovered from a 3-1 deficit to continue their playoff run.
"That is the amazing thing about this -- three straight games of win or go home," Malone said of the Nuggets overcoming their series deficit. "The resiliency, the mental toughness, and the want, the will to win was on full display for everybody to see. Couldn't be more proud of our guys."