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Dempsey: Jamal Murray Arriving in L.A. for All-Star Festivities in Style
LOS ANGELES – The Jamal Murray Way means always suiting up and never making any excuses.
It means never being impressed by a spectacular play or spectacular game. Those are a regular part of the plan for the second-year Nuggets guard. He has always pictured himself covered in greatness, and the only surprises for him come when he’s off the mark in achieving it.
But there is nothing off center about Murray’s play of late. He’s flat-out hitting the bullseye in his development as a 20-year old professional.
As such, Murray is arriving in Los Angeles for this weekend’s All-Star festivities in style. He scored 26 points, including five 3-pointers in the Nuggets’ win over Milwaukee to close out the pre-All-Star portion of the season on Thursday night.
It was just the latest solid performance in what is becoming a season chock full of them. In his last 13 games, Murray…
- Has three 30-point games.
- Has four games of four or more 3-pointers.
- Has seven games of five or more rebounds.
- Has eight games shooting over 46 percent from the field.
- Has four games shooting over 60 percent from the field.
- Is a combined plus-37 in the two games leading into the break, both Nuggets wins.
- Is averaging 20.0 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the field, 48.6 percent from the 3-point line, and 90.5 percent from the free throw line.
When Murray scores over 30 points this season, the Nuggets are 4-1. When he makes five or more 3-pointers in a game, the Nuggets are 5-2. His production has equaled wins, and few players in the league are entering this weekend on a hotter streak than he is.
And did we mention he’s the reigning MVP of the Rising Stars game?
Murray’s play this season has taken a gigantic step up, and all of it while learning on the job playing point guard in the NBA. This is his first full season at the position, and he’s passing all of the tests.
“I’m so hard on him because I think he can be special,” Nuggets president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly, said. “Then I take a step back and see what he’s doing at 20 years old. He’s an extremely talented kid, he’s a kid who cares. He’s super competitive. So, I think when I take a step back from the day-to-day when I’m kind of always needling him and challenging him, you can’t not be impressed by his play. And certainly, not just his play for his age but the team play – so he’s doing it in a winning environment for a team that’s trending towards the playoffs.”
So, it is with that backdrop that he took a redeye flight on Thursday night from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. He’ll participate in the Rising Stars game, in what will be the second of a back-to-back for him. Then he’ll participate in the skills competition on Saturday night.
And never was his presence for any of this in question. He suffered through a chest ailment that threatened to sideline him for a game earlier in the week. But, of course it didn’t. He played, because he always plays. He relishes the challenge each night.
And there was no way anything was going to keep him from playing in L.A. on Friday night alongside his peers.
“I’m playing,” he said. “I’ve only missed one game since high school. I don’t care if I can’t breathe, I’m playing.”
All in a day’s work for Murray.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.