Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic was full of praise for fellow teammate Jamal Murray after the team lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in a five-game Western Conference Finals series. The Lakers won Game 5 117-107 to close the series and reach their first NBA Finals in a decade.
Previously, the Nuggets recovered from a 3-1 deficit against the Utah Jazz in the first round, before they also came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Los Angeles Clippers. Both Jokic and Murray were doing a tremendous job for the Nuggets throughout the entire playoffs.
"I mean, he's amazing," Jokic said of Murray, per ESPN. "He was our leader. His energy through the whole playoffs. He was banged up. He was injured before, even when I came here [to the bubble late], he was a little bit banged up.
... But he's a dog. He's a fighter. He's a competitor. He's an amazing shooter. He played amazing. "Since when I came here five years ago, we had 33 wins that season. And today we're in the Western Conference finals.
So I think it's interesting to think about the huge improvement that we have, me as a player, as a group, as a whole organization. It was amazing improvement."
Murray confirmed Jokic's claims that he was banged up
Murray hobbled on the court but still finished Game 5 with 19 points, four rebounds and eight assists despite.
"I have a big bruise on my foot," Murray said when asked what was hobbling him. "Just hurt me all game. I changed shoes, and that didn't help. Yeah, I have a bone bruise [as well]. I don't like to tell everybody what I got.
I just like to play through it. I was in pain, but it's cool. I was out there. I was struggling a little bit today." "Eighty-something days in the bubble and a lot of minutes. I didn't have the energy I needed to have for my teammates today.
Without me moving as hard or cutting as hard or scoring as much, I can be so much better in so many different ways. I can't just try to get through the game. I have to try to help lead my team to win by any means." Though he was injured, Murray was still hard on himself after a Game 5 loss.
"I could have played a lot better this game," a dejected Murray said. "It was a good run. But I don't want to be in the position of losing. I just hate to lose and nothing else really matters to me."