The Denver Nuggets lost to the Phoenix Suns, 82-81, in overtime after Suns rookie point guard Tyler Ulis drained a long 3-point shot out of a timeout to advance the Suns in the Summer League tournament.
Jamal Murray lead all players in scoring with 29 points on a 13-26 performance, with his final two points coming on what was nearly the game-winner with 1.8 seconds remaining. The Suns called timeout after Murray's layup gave Denver a two point lead, drawing up a play for Ulis' shot attempt.
It was a bittersweet end for Denver, who nearly lost the game at the end of the fourth quarter thanks to a terrible play by Mateusz Ponitka. With less than two seconds on the clock, the Suns inbounded to Dragan Bender, who pump faked Ponitka into the air and drew a foul with the score tied 79-79 with 0.4 seconds remaining. Bender, who shot 72 percent last season from the free throw line with Maccabi Tel Aviv, missed both attempts to send the game to overtime.
In the extra two minutes, both teams failed to score until the final seconds, missing shots from near and far. The Nuggets drew up a play for Murray with 15 seconds left, and he was isolated against his former college teammate Tyler Ulis. He drove left, getting into the paint, but was stripped by Ulis when he began to rise up for a shot attempt near the rim. The ball bounced back into Murray's hands however, and he laid the ball in what was nearly his first semi-NBA game-winner.
Don't forget to guard the guy in-bounding the ball! AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHH.
While the ending was exciting, the Nuggets started the game slow, letting the Suns get uncontested offensive rebounds and open shots at the rim. Juancho Hernangomez set a tone for the Nuggets comeback with two early putbacks, flying over all the soft Euro stereotypes to get his first points.
Hernangomez started the second quarter with an assault on the rim, attacking the rim after his defender closed out too aggressively and beating two help defenders to the rim. It was a play that highlighted areas of his game that weren't as talked about before the draft. He's more than just a shooter, able to put the ball on the court and use his athleticism to get buckets.
The Nuggets and Suns traded baskets in the third quarter, with both teams having their best offensive quarters of the game after the break. Troy Williams, a wing from the University of Indiana who was not drafted in the 2016 draft, was constantly attacking the rim for Phoenix, getting buckets possession after possession. The Nuggets guards (Jimmer) were unable to box out on defense, so when the Suns missed a lot of those loose balls ended up in the hands of the Suns again.
Murray took over for the Nuggets in the fourth quarter, scoring the final 14 points of the quarter for Denver. While at times he looked exhausted, with many of his shots coming up short off the front of the rim, he was able to find space to get his shot off. He also continued to show off his basketball IQ, using his size to muscle defenders away from him or attacking the rim when the bigs weren't communicating on defense.
The end of the game was entertaining, and while it would have been nice to see Denver advance, at least they'll leave Las Vegas without having any injury concerns.
Juancho was the best player on the court. Murray had more points, but Juancho was the best player on the court. He was all over the place, getting rebounds, deflecting passes, dunking, and passing the ball. It's going to be a tough decision figuring out what to do with him this season. The future is really bright for him as the power forward of the future for Denver.
Jamal can get buckets. Today was the third straight game for Murray to reach 20 points or more. While he needed a lot of shot attempts to get there (26 against Phoenix) he has the ability to score in a variety of ways. When his shot wasn't falling, he was aggressive on the offensive glass, getting rebounds and laying the ball back in. That's important, because some players who are considered 3-point specialists could easily check out if their shot isn't falling. Murray fought, found a rhythm, and got buckets.
Micah Nori did a good job. His plays out of timeouts were solid. The Nuggets frequently got open looks, the challenge was scoring after those. He had a tight rotation today, giving all the starters more than 30 minutes each in a 42 minute game. While the Nuggets assistants are running out of Denver like Bambi running from a fire, at least the Nuggets still have Nori.
Courtesy of NBA.com/.
PS - thanks for messing up Jeff Morton's birthday, Tyler. So selfish.