Jamal Murray hits wild buzzer-beater to lift Nuggets past Lakers, complete 20-point comeback in Game 2

The Nuggets have now won 10 straight games against the Lakers as their playoff series heads to Los Angeles

Jamal Murray saved the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Murray hit a ridiculous fadeaway buzzer-beater over Anthony Davis to lift the Nuggets past the Los Angeles Lakers 101-99 in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series. Murray, with the game tied as time was winding down, drove at Davis before he stepped back and fired.

Murray fell into the Nuggets bench as his shot went down perfectly over the Lakers big man, which sparked a wild celebration at Ball Arena in Denver. The photo of the shot itself was incredible, too.

"I had the ball with a few seconds left, and I knew once I made a couple the next one should go down as well. ... I just beat him to the spot, beat him to my spot, elevated, went through my shot and I'm thankful enough that was one of the few that went down for me," Murray said on TNT.

After missing 13 of his first 16 shots, Murray had 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter on Monday night, which helped spark a 20-point comeback in the second half. The defending champions now hold a 2-0 series lead over the Lakers as the series heads to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday night.

The Nuggets have now won 10 straight games against the Lakers. The buzzer-beater was just the third in the playoffs since 2000 that completed a 20-point comeback or larger, according to ESPN, and the first since Luka Dončić did so in 2020.

Anthony Davis, Lakers jump up early

Davis and the Lakers were in perfect position to even the series Monday night.

Davis dominated in the first half, and there seemed to be nothing Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets could do to stop him. He had 24 points and shot a near-perfect 11 of 12 from the field in the first two quarters, and helped power the Lakers on a massive 21-7 run to close out the second quarter. That gave them a 15-point lead at the break. D’Angelo Russell had 18 points in the first half, too, after going 6 of 7 from behind the arc.

Anthony Davis headshot
Anthony Davis
PF - LAL - #3
4/22/2024 v. DEN

The Lakers opened the second half on a quick 9-4 burst, which suddenly gave them a 20-point lead.

That, though, didn’t hold. The Nuggets slowly chipped away at that lead and cut it to single digits near the end of the quarter after Jokić hit his first bucket since the first quarter. The Nuggets cut the lead back to 10 points to enter the final period, and then got it to a single possession by the midway point of the fourth quarter after shutting down the Lakers’ offense almost completely. Until a pair of deep 3-pointers from LeBron James, the Lakers had made just a single field goal in the period.

After the Nuggets got within a single point on a huge and-1 from Jokić in the final minutes, James came up with a steal and threw down a fast-break dunk to keep the Lakers up by three.

But immediately, after nearly losing the ball out of bounds, the Nuggets responded with a contested 3-pointer from Michael Porter Jr. to tie it back up with 75 seconds left.

That led to the final sequence, where Murray sealed the two-point win.

Davis finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 14 of 19 from the field in the loss for the Lakers. James finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and Russell added 23 points.

Nikola Jokic headshot
Nikola Jokic
C - DEN - #15
4/22/2024 v. LAL

Jokić finished with a triple-double with 27 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the win for the Nuggets. It was Jokić’s fourth career playoff game with 25 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists. There are only four other players in post-merger league history who have had that playoff performance.

Murray had 20 points and five assists, though he went 0 of 5 from behind the arc. Porter Jr. added 22 points and nine rebounds.

Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt eyeing Game 3 return

The Lakers should have Jarred Vanderbilt back on the floor for Game 3 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Vanderbilt has been out since Feb. 1 while dealing with a right midfoot sprain. He’s been ramping up his on-court workouts in the past few weeks, and he participated in “one of his most intense workouts yet” on Monday morning in Denver, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. He is now reportedly targeting a return for Game 3.

While the Lakers didn’t confirm that Vanderbilt will play on Thursday night, the team is “hopeful” that both he and Christian Wood will be available to play in this opening-round series. Wood has been out recovering from left knee surgery he underwent in mid-February.

Vanderbilt has averaged 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 29 games off the bench this season, his first full year with the Lakers after landing there midway through last season. Wood has put up 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season.

Though it will take much more than just Vanderbilt’s return to knock off the defending champions, he should provide some much-needed depth inside.