NBA playoffs: Jamal Murray hits another game-winner to lift Nuggets past Lakers in Game 5, close out series

Jamal Murray has done it again.

The Denver Nuggets star, after his wild buzzer-beater in Game 2 of the series, hit another game-winner Monday night to officially close out their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Murray, with the game tied in the final seconds, skillfully hit a jumper over Austin Reaves just inside the free throw line to seal the 108-106 win over the Lakers. His shot fell with just under four seconds left, which wasn’t enough time for the Lakers to respond as they didn’t have a timeout.

This officially gave the Nuggets the 4-1 series victory over the Lakers and sent them to the Western Conference semifinals. They will face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who swept the Phoenix Suns in their first-round series.

Murray, who was questionable Monday night with a calf strain, hit a buzzer-beater while falling out of bounds in Game 2, putting the Nuggets up 2-0.

“I’m speechless. It’s a dream come true,” Murray said on TNT. “All these fans standing by you to make it happen this way, I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. I’m just happy for us.”

The Lakers, who were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals last season, have now lost in the first round of the playoffs twice in the last four seasons.

After the Lakers held a slight lead at the break, thanks to a 12-0 run in the second quarter to bounce back from an early hole, the Lakers nearly lost Davis right out of the break.

Davis was shot in the left shoulder after colliding with Michael Porter Jr. in the opening minutes of the second half. The two hit in the middle of the lane and Davis immediately fell hard to the court. He also lay there for several minutes, clearly in great pain, before finally getting up and walking towards the bench.

The shot itself didn’t look like anything drastic, but it clearly hit Davis in exactly the right place to leave an impact. He remained in the game after a timeout, but he was holding his neck and his arm was seen hanging several times during the following possessions. He then totaled 16 points and nine rebounds. He finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Despite the injury, the Lakers briefly pushed their lead to nine points midway through the period after a huge 3-pointer from LeBron James. Davis, meanwhile, was now virtually useless offensively. When he grabbed his 10th rebound of the night, he immediately clutched his shoulder in pain.

That nine-point advantage quickly disappeared for the Lakers. The Nuggets then went on a 19-5 run to take the lead a few minutes later, which included a huge 3-pointer from Porter despite a big shot that sent him down the court.

Davis returned to the locker room at the end of the period, but returned to the field to start the fourth. Although the Lakers briefly took the lead midway through the final period, Murray dropped four quick points and threw down a huge dunk over James and immediately dunked on him under the rim.

The teams battled it out in the final minutes, but Murray scored a huge 3-pointer to put the Nuggets back up two points with a minute remaining. James made two free throws at the other end to tie it at 106-106, setting up Murray’s game-winner.

James finished just short of a triple-double for the Lakers. He had 30 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in the loss while shooting 11 of 21 from the field. Reaves added 19 points.

Murray led the Nuggets with 32 points and seven assists, and he made 5 of 10 from behind the arc. Porter added 26 points and Nikola Jokić finished with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists.

The Nuggets will now face the Timberwolves in the Western Conference semifinals starting Saturday in Denver. Minnesota swept the Phoenix Suns in their series Sunday night in what was their first playoff series in two decades.

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