Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle help silence Nuggets’ Jamal Murray
This time, Jamal Murray stood with his hands on his hips, silently. Isaiah Thomas tossed the ball in his direction as the clock expired.
In an arena full of hostile fans who booed and chanted his name derisively, Murray didn’t lose his spirit for most of the game. But his team lost, and that kept the Nuggets point guard a little more quiet.
The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 112-103. Kyle Kuzma scored 26 points, all but two of them in the second half. He also had 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double and seventh game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Julius Randle scored 26 points as well and Isaiah Thomas scored 23.
“Honestly, I like the kid to be honest,” Randle said of Murray. “I just don’t — we’re not for the antics that he’s had the past couple games. I like him, he’s a Kentucky guy, I’m always going to have that relationship. But this is my team, and I’m not going to let the antics fly.”
The win avenged a nine-point loss to the Nuggets in Denver just four days prior and a double-digit loss in Denver on Dec. 2.
In December, Murray ended the game by dribbling the ball around Lonzo Ball in showy fashion.
The loss Friday was colored by Murray behaving in a way that Lakers coach Luke Walton found disrespectful. After the game, Lonzo Ball and Kuzma indicated they were looking forward to seeing Murray again soon.
“Before the game we just talked about treating it as another game knowing that guy does what he does,” Thomas said. “We’re not too worried about him; we’re worried about ourselves and winning the game. I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
Murray was booed at introductions and every time he touched the ball early in the game.
When he scored, he would shout about his prowess and mime shooting a bow and arrow.
With his father Roger sitting courtside on the baseline, Murray scored eight first-quarter points. But the Lakers took an early lead and finished the period up 35-22.
Their game fell apart in the second quarter. The Lakers made only three of 18 shots and saw almost all of their lead evaporate. They went into the third quarter with a one-point lead, but quickly lost it for the rest of the period.
Ball had been impacting the game positively all night, grabbing rebounds, securing chase-down blocks and converting assists. But the one thing he couldn’t do for much of the game was hit shots.
When he’s missing shots, Ball always says the same thing: “I’m gonna keep shooting.”
On Tuesday night he kept shooting, and the seventh three-point shot he attempted offered a turning-point moment for the Lakers.
It was Ball’s first made three of the game, it came with 7 minutes 40 seconds to play and it gave the Lakers their first lead since the start of the third quarter, 90-89. The Lakers never trailed again.
That shot finally got the crowd louder than it was when booing Murray.
Not long after that, Randle threw down a one-handed dunk on a pass from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope after Caldwell-Pope stole the ball.
With the win well in hand, the crowd turned its attention back to deriding Murray, chanting “Murray sucks” loudly as the Lakers shot free throws.
“Definitely heard the crowd, especially when we were shooting free throws,” Ball said. “I don’t know if I like them screaming while we’re shooting free throws, but I like the energy they had.”
Roger Murray liked the energy, too, even though it was directed at his son, who scored 18 points.
“This is good energy,” he said. “We feed off it to get better. I don’t mind this. I love this.”
Appreciating the show runs in the family.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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