LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 16: Jamal Murray #27 of the World Team drives to the basket against the USA Team during the Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game during All-Star Friday Night as part of 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend at the STAPLES Center on February 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jamal Murray Scores 21 in Efficient Rising Stars Performance

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

LOS ANGELES – Jamal Murray has these moments where the basket looks as large as an ocean. Missing shots in those instances seems impossible.

The start of the third quarter, during Friday night’s Rising Stars game at Staples Center, was one of those times. He started the quarter with a jump shot. Then he hit a 3-pointer. And then another. In the blink of an eye, Murray had scored eight points in the first three-and-a-half minutes. He’d risen into the scoring lead for his World Team, which was trouncing the USA Team. A second-straight MVP was within reach.

“I just starting shooting,” Murray said, grinning.

In the end, another MVP wasn’t in the cards for the Nuggets starting point guard, but another solid performance in the Rising Stars game was assured. Murray started, played 24 minutes, and finished with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He shot 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from the 3-point line.

The World Team hammered the USA Team, 155-124.

“It was good, it was fun,” Murray said. “I wasn’t playing point today, so it was a different look. But, it was fun nevertheless. Everybody put on a show, and I think the fans liked it.”

And the World Team coach, Rex Kalamian, liked what he saw out of Murray.

“I thought Jamal Murray was really good with the ball,” Kalamian said. “Quick and kind of surprised me with some really quick moves with the basketball in his hands.”

The game was the culmination of a whirlwind of events, which started 24 hours earlier in Milwaukee as he scored 26 points in a Nuggets’ win over the Bucks. After the game, Murray boarded a redeye flight bound for Los Angeles, and got to his hotel at 2:15 a.m.

After getting to sleep, Murray woke right back up at 7 a.m., had a morning practice with the World Team, helped coach kids for a Jr. NBA event, then held a mandatory 30-minute session with assembled media. After that, Murray was whisked away for a few more interviews, then ran a social media gauntlet, taking pictures for various platforms.

He got a short nap after 1 p.m.

The bus carrying the World Team bound for the Staples Center left at 3 p.m., however, and the game started three hours later.

Murray admitted fatigue was a factor for him early on.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Murray said. “It was kind of hard. It is what it is. I’m tired. But, it’s All-Star Weekend. I can’t miss out on this.”

His play picked up as he got his legs under him.

“I was passing a lot in the first half. I wasn’t playing point. I was playing off the ball,” he said. “I didn’t really do much in the first half, but I got it going in the second and opened up that lead even more.”

Murray was part of a World Team that nailed 23 3-pointers.

With phase one behind him, Murray gets set to participate in the Skills Competition on Saturday night.

“You dream of this as a kid, watching the events growing up,” Murray said. “So watching the events and being in the Skills Challenge and the Rising Stars game is a meaningful thing.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.