Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nuggets, Raptors level playoff series

Nuggets, Raptors level playoff series

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Jamal Murray grabs a high pass during game four of the Western Conference Semifinals at Moda Center on Sunday in Portland, Oregon. Steve Dykes/Getty Images/AFP

Nuggets, Raptors level playoff series

JAMAL Murray scored 34 points, including six clutch free throws down the stretch to lift the Denver Nuggets to a gritty 116-112 NBA playoff win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Canadian Murray combined with Serbian Nikola Jokic to form a dynamic scoring duo as the Nuggets squared their second round Western Conference series at two games each.

It was a quick turnaround from the Trail Blazers’ 140-137 quadruple overtime victory in Friday’s game three.

Game four didn’t last nearly as long as that three hour, 35 minute marathon, but it was another back-and-forth battle highlighted by Murray’s precision shooting and a fourth playoff triple-double from Jokic.

“The biggest part was mental,” said Murray on playing two playoff games just 40 hours apart. “We know what to do physically but that was a draining game and we had to come back with energy and face a great team.

“We were able to get what we wanted on offence and the stops on defence.”

Jokic had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his second straight triple-double and Murray, who led all scorers, was a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line for Denver, who handed Portland their first playoff loss at home this season.

Two free throws by Murray increased the Nuggets’ edge to 112-108 with 13 seconds on the clock.

After Damian Lillard scored on a layup with 7.7 seconds remaining, Murray hit a pair of free throws to make it 114-110 with 6.7 seconds to play.

CJ McCollum scored on a long two-point shot to cut it to 114-112 with 4.4 seconds to go, but Murray clinched it with another pair at the line with 3.4 seconds left.

“I love free throws,” said Murray, the son of Jamaican immigrants who moved to Kitchener, Ontario where he was born. “Everybody knows I love free throws. My team trusts me.”

Said Nuggets coach Mike Malone, “Jamal has got a tremendous amount of grit. You think about how young we are and going on the road to win a tough game four in a hostile environment. For Jamal to be a centrepiece of that is phenomenal.”

McCollum had 29 points and Lillard added 28 for the Trail Blazers.

Game five is on Tuesday at Denver.

Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored 39 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to propel the Toronto Raptors to a 101-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers that knotted their Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.

Spanish centre Marc Gasol added 16 points and Kyle Lowry contributed 14 for the Raptors, who held ailing Sixers centre Joel Embiid to 11 points on two-of-seven shooting from the field.

The Raptors will try to seize a series lead when the action shifts back to Toronto for game five on Tuesday.

After losing back-to-back games, Leonard said the Raptors’ mindset was to “come in and play hard”.

“The whole team concept was coming in and playing harder, being smarter and take your shots,” Leonard said. “We needed it. This is a big win, but we’ve got to come back and get it for game five.”

Leonard scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a first half that finished with the Raptors holding a narrow 47-45 lead.

It was the first time in his career that he notched at least 15 points and 10 rebounds in a half.

After seven lead changes in the third quarter, the increasingly physical encounter was tied 75-75 heading into the fourth.

The Raptors were clinging to a 91-90 lead when Leonard drained a step-back three-pointer over a reaching Embiid with 1:01 left to play and three seconds left on the shot clock.

It put Toronto up 94-90 and the 76ers wouldn’t get the gap below four points from there.

“I just saw there were about three seconds left on the clock,” Leonard said of the clutch basket. “[Embiid’s] so long so I just I just tried to fade away and shoot it over the top of him and luckily it went down.”

The 76ers made connected on just five of 21 attempts from the field in the fourth quarter, missing nine straight in one span, and the Raptors made seven free throws down the stretch to seal it.


  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,