On Friday night, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets scored a career-high 50 points and became the first player in NBA history to collect that many without trying a free throw as Denver adjusted to a schedule change by handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their ninth consecutive loss, 120-103.
After the game, Murray said that he was unaware that he had done something so unique. “I was just making my shots,” he said nonchalantly, while taking sips of a postgame smoothie. “It’s kind of cool to make history. It’s a cool stat.”
In the second half, Murray exploded for 30 points, ending his career night with a jackhammer dunk, reaching 50. The fourth quarter saw Murray sink three three-pointers in 63 seconds. In total, he converted 21 of 25 shots, including 8 of 10 from the 3-point arc, and he added six rebounds. He broke Denver’s two-game losing streak and improved their record to 16-13 on the season.
“That’s an incredible stat line,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, on Murray’s performance. “He was on fire.”
Nikola Jokic celebrated his 26th birthday with his seventh triple-double of the season. Denver’s All-Star center ended the night with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He is tied with Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook for the NBA lead in triple-doubles. He also recently became the first Nugget since Carmelo Anthony in 2011 to be named an All-Star starter.
“I couldn’t be happier for Nikola because he’s done everything I’ve ever asked of him,” said coach Malone. “After every season, it’s never been, ‘Go work on your jump shot, your 3-point shot, your left hook, your right hook.’ It’s always been, ‘Nikola, you have to mature, you have to grow up, you have to handle adversity, you have to be a leader, you have to be more vocal, you have to be in great shape.’ And he’s done all that. I’m so happy for the success he’s having.”
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 23 points, and Jarrett Allen added 20 points and 10 boards. After a strong start, Cleveland has fallen near the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.