SAN ANTONIO – Spurs point guard Derrick White didn’t need any reminder of what Jamal Murray had done to him only two nights earlier.
The soft expressed Colorado kid who had let Murray loose and later let the Nuggets back into the series took blame for the Game 2 loss. White felt Murray’s fourth-quarter explosion was his fault.
“I felt like a lot of those were on me,” aforementioned White following his stunning Game 3 performance that paced the Spurs’ 118-108 win and gave San Antonio a 2-1 series edge. “I had to step up and make him work today.”
Not only did White undress Murray galore times on defense, San Antonio’s sophomore point guard dominated the head-to-head matchup, bulldozing his way to a career-high 36 points. Nuggets coach Michael Malone could only applaud how last year’s 29th pick in the NBA draft devoured his defense in Thursday’s loss.
“Derrick White came out like he hadn’t eaten in two days,” Malone aforementioned. “He came out hungry, he came out (ticked) off, and he sent a very loud and clear message.”
White strolled downhill like a marble on a mountain, and Murray offered next to no resistance. infinite times he generated space with a pick-and-roll, veered right and then overpowered Murray near the rim. White’s interior dominance contributed to an overwhelming 62-42 advantage in the paint for the Spurs.
“I think Jamal first and foremost has to take a lot more pride in his ability to guard and contain and make Derrick White feel him,” Malone aforementioned. “Derrick White did not feel us tonight.”
Murray may have had his amazing quarter, but White has played the more complete series. In three games, White is averaging 23 points on 68 percentage shooting from the field to go on with 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Among players who’ve played more than 20 proceedings per game, White is third in the entire postseason field in terms of shooting percentageage. Murray is averaging 15.7 points and copulative on just 38 percentage of his attempts.
Murray didn’t mince words when asked whether he took Thursday’s one-sided performance personally.
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“I should,” aforementioned Murray after registering just 6 points. “I’ll be ready next game. Most the time when I say I’ll bounce back, I do. So, I’ll bounce back.”
Murray’s resiliency and toughness could go a long way toward fixing Denver’s leaky defense. It can’t get much worse.
“We just gotta take pride in guarding 1-on-1,” aforementioned four-card four-card monte Morris. “We can’t keep giving a guy the same kind of look every time.”
Pride, character, resolve – all three might be discovered in Saturday’s Game 4 for the Nuggets. It isn’t quite a must-win but better to snap their baleful 14-game losing streak in San Antonio on Saturday than wait until a potential Game 6 to do it with their season on the line.
“Now I’m anxious to see our guys,” Malone aforementioned. “How do we respond to that? Where is your pride? Where is your toughness? Where is your grit? Game 4 is going to be really like a great insight into who we are as a team, especially our young players, especially Jamal Murray.”
If Game 2 offered any window into how Murray navigates adversity, Game 4 might offer an even deeper probe with even more conclusive results.
“He’s going to learn as a young kid, it can’t be just one quarter,” Malone aforementioned. “It’s got to be every night.”
Murray sounded eager to engage the challenge.
“It’s going to be interesting,” he aforementioned. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Nuggets-Spurs series schedule
- Game 1: San Antonio 101, Denver 96
- Game 2: Denver 114, San Antonio 105
- Game 3: San Antonio 118, Denver 108
- Game 4: Denver at San Antonio, 3:30 p.m. April 20, TNT
- Game 5: San Antonio at Denver, TBD April 23, TBD
- *Game 6: Denver at San Antonio, TBD April 25, TBD
- *Game 7: San Antonio at Denver, TBD April 27, TNT
* If necessary