Jamal Murray hits incredible half-court buzzer-beater as Denver Nuggets level series against Minnesota Timberwolves

Matias Grez, CNN | 5/13/2024, 12:49 p.m.
The Denver Nuggets are still well and truly alive in the NBA Playoffs after leveling their Western Conference semifinal at …
Jamal Murray's buzzer-beater capped an impressive first half. Mandatory Credit: AAron Ontiveroz/Denver Post/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

The Denver Nuggets are still well and truly alive in the NBA Playoffs after leveling their Western Conference semifinal at two games apiece with a 115-107 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

After going down 0-2 in the series following surprising back-to-back home defeats, the defending champion Nuggets have now wrestled homecourt advantage back from Minnesota with two straight road wins as the teams head back to Colorado.

Only five teams in NBA history have come back to win a best-of-seven series when losing the first two at home. All five won Games 3 and 4 on the road, as Denver has done.

It was another impressive victory for Nuggets, who took the lead for the first time towards the end of the first quarter and then never gave it up.

Denver opened up a 15-point advantage at the half after a nightmare end to the second quarter for the Timberwolves.

After a turnover allowed Michael Porter Jr. to score a breakaway dunk with just 1.6 seconds remaining, Nickeil Alexander-Walker tried to quickly inbounds the ball in the hope of giving Minnesota a chance of a final bucket before the horn, but threw the pass straight to Nuggets guard Jamal Murray.

Murray heaved the ball from way beyond the half-court line and hit nothing but net, sucking the energy out of Target Center and leaving several fans with their head in their hands.

Denver’s lead swelled to as much as 18 in the third quarter, before the Timberwolves cut the deficit to as little as six points down the stretch, though it felt like the experienced Nuggets always kept their opponents at arm’s length.

“‘Never underestimate the heart of a champion,’” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said, per ESPN, quoting former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “They were quick to write us off, but these guys, we won a championship a year ago.

“We went into Miami [in the NBA Finals], won two games in a row. This team has been tested time and time again, and we found a way to solve whatever’s been thrown at us. This series is a long way from being over. We’re not celebrating.

“It’s 2-2 … but what I found about our group is that they do believe in themselves and more importantly, they believe in the man next to them. We have a group that is acting as you would hope a championship team would act.”

Denver was led by 35 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals from newly-crowned three-time MVP Nikola Jokić, while Aaron Gordon had a near-perfect night with 27 points on 11-of-12 shooting – including 2-of-2 from three-point range – to go with seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

Jokić called Gordon Denver’s “best player” in Sunday’s victory.

For the Timberwolves, rising superstar Anthony Edwards continued his impressive playoff performances with a huge 44-point night on 64% shooting, but it just wasn’t enough to power Minnesota to a comeback win.

Karl-Anthony Towns had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds but was held to a miserly 27.8% shooting by Denver’s improved defense.

Towns said Murray’s absurd shot just before the half “hurt” the team.

“We made a good run to get ourselves back in the game and got some momentum, put some juice in the building, and then they did what the defending champs do,” he said, per ESPN.

“It definitely sent us to halftime with a bad taste in our mouth, so we just got to be better next time.”

The teams now head back to Denver for Tuesday’s Game 5, before returning to Minnesota for Game 6 on Thursday.

Pacers cruise to level series against Knicks

In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Indiana Pacers earned a statement 121-89 win over the New York Knicks to level the series at 2-2.

Star guard Tyrese Haliburton lit up Gainbridge Fieldhouse with a game-high 20 points – tied with the Knicks’ Alec Burks – to go with six rebounds and five assists.

Six Pacers players scored in double figures as both teams sat their starters early in the blowout victory.

The series returns to New York for Game 5 on Tuesday and then back to Indianapolis for Game 6 on Friday.