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Jamal Murray dunks on LeBron James, eliminates Lakers with game-winner

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You won’t find Jamal Murray’s name on any All-Star lists. You won’t find him on any ballot for MVP, or an All-NBA team. 

Where you will find Murray is where it matters most — in the clutch. 

The Nuggets guard sent the Denver crowd into elation and the Lakers home packing on Monday night, as Murray sank the game-winning bucket with four seconds left to lift the Nuggets to a 108-106 win in Game 5, taking the first-round series 4-1. 

It was the second time in four games that Murray made the last shot of the night. In Game 2, it was the 27-year-old Canadian who hit a buzzer-beater to cap off Denver’s impressive comeback win over Los Angeles. 

It was unclear just hours before the game if Murray would even suit up. He was listed as questionable with a calf injury leading up to Monday night’s pivotal matchup, but Murray was on the court for his team in an effort to close out the series against LeBron James and Co. 

“It’s a good thing you played me tonight, coach,” Murray said to Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “I don’t know if we win if I don’t play tonight.”

MORE: Does Minnesota have an answer for Nikola Jokic in Timberwolves vs. Nuggets?

The Lakers and Nuggets battled wire-to-wire on Monday night, as Los Angeles fought to keep its season alive while Denver pushed to end the series early and lock its spot in the second round. 

With 26 seconds to go, James hit back-to-back free throws to tie the contest at 106 a piece. It gave Denver possession with the ability to milk the shot clock down and take a potential go-ahead shot. 

Murray waited, and waited, and waited, letting the time tick down until there were just seconds remaining. Using a Jokic screen on Lakers guard Austin Reaves, Murray cut to his left, finding open space on the floor for a 14-foot pull-up jump shot. The ball sailed through the air and into the basket, giving the Nuggets a 108-106 lead with just seconds remaining. 

The Lakers’ attempt to rush down the court and heave a last-second 3-pointer failed, as Taurean Prince’s attempt fell way short of the bucket. The buzzer rang and the Nuggets faithful and Ball Arena erupted in celebration as the defending champions punched their ticket to a second-round matchup against the Timberwolves. 

MORE: What’s next for Lakers after first-round exit

The game-winning shot was the obvious highlight to take away from Monday night’s spectacle, but Murray had another top play just minutes before. With about four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Denver guard put the Nuggets up by two in emphatic fashion.

As Jokic possessed the ball in the post, the Lakers left the middle of the court wide open. Murray saw his opportunity and took it, cutting down the lane, receiving the pass from the two-time MVP and throwing it down for the one-handed jam. 

The play was highlight-worthy enough, but to make it even better, it was James who tried to get up to block the attempt, only to find himself on the wrong side of the dunk. 

Of course, Murray had to give the crowd a bit of a show after, flexing on James and the Lakers with a mean mug to pair. 

The performance in Denver is even more impressive when you consider Murray’s injury status heading into the game. 

The guard strained his calf in the second half of Game 4. He finished the contest, but it was announced on Sunday that he was questionable for the game the next night. Heading into Game 5, Malone said Murray would warm up, but they wouldn’t risk “further injury.

Ultimately, Murray got the pregame treatment he needed to manage through the calf injury. 

“I came in a little earlier just to get some treatment, and I did feel like I could play,” Murray said. “They told me no. I didn’t say no. I didn’t want to leave my teammates out there, we’ve been battling all season and everyone is hurt at some point and everyone is going through something.

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