NBA Finals: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray both have triple-doubles, Nuggets beat Heat for 2-1 lead
Never had two players from the same team had 30-point triple-doubles in the same game. Never in the regular season. Never in the playoffs. Certainly never in the NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray made history Wednesday night — and have the Denver Nuggets two wins away from making some real history as well.
Jokic and Murray became the first teammates in NBA Finals history to both record triple-doubles, and the Nuggets reclaimed the lead in the series by beating the Miami Heat 109-94 in Game 3.
“By far, their greatest performance as a duo in their seven years together,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after his team moved two wins away from Denver’s first title.
Jokic finished with 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists — the first such game in NBA Finals history, or at least the first since assists were tracked. Murray had 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, getting the rebound he needed with nine seconds left.
The Nuggets outrebounded the Heat 58-33. Game 4 is Friday in Miami.
“I’m just glad that we won the game,” Jokic said. “It was a big one for us because they won in our arena. We just didn’t want to go down 2-1.”
Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for Miami, and Bam Adebayo finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Caleb Martin had 10 points for Miami.
Miami has been the comeback kings of these playoffs — seven rallies in games after trailing by at least 12 points. The Heat were down by 14 going into the fourth, and Malone reminded his club of Miami’s penchant for comebacks.
“First two games, they won the fourth quarter,” Malone said. “Tonight, we win the fourth quarter, we win the game.”
His team listened.
The lead eventually reached 21, the outcome never seriously in doubt, and Jokic looking very much as if he’s back in cruise control. The Heat got to within nine on a three-pointer by Duncan Robinson with 1:22 left, but there was no epic finish for Miami. Murray and Jokic had the Nuggets too far ahead to be caught.
“You have to expect there to be elite talent in the finals,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And both those guys are elite-level talent.”
Miami Heat president Pat Riley leads the ‘hardest-working, best conditioned, most professional, unselfish, toughest, meanest, nastiest team in the NBA.’
Officially, Jokic is now the seventh player to have two triple-doubles in the same finals. Magic Johnson and LeBron James each did it in three different finals. Draymond Green, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Butler all had one title series with two triple-doubles.
It was his 10th triple-double of these playoffs, extending his single-season record, and he was unbothered by whatever Miami threw his way. Jokic finished 12 for 21 from the field, seven for eight from the free-throw line, playing 44 minutes.
“We were more locked in, more focused,” Jokic said.
Christian Braun was tremendous off the bench for the Nuggets, scoring 15 points on seven-for-eight shooting in 19 minutes. Aaron Gordon had 11 for Denver.
Miami never led in the second half. A dunk by Adebayo put the Heat up 44-42 with 3:18 left in the half, before a three-pointer by Murray represented the seventh and final lead change of the night. It was 53-48 at halftime, before Denver pushed the lead to double digits for the first time early in the third and wound up leading by as many as 19 later in that period.
“We took care of business,” Braun said.
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