Anatomy of Denver Nuggets' Historic 19-Point Comeback vs. Spurs
When the San Antonio Spurs’ Rudy Gay drove into the lane and scored against the Nuggets with 4:28 remaining in the third quarter, it appeared as if the Denver Nuggets would fall to behind two games in its first-round series. After all, that drive pushed San Antonio’s lead to 77-59—an 18-point deficit—and Denver’s offense struggled mightily in the opening seven quarters of the series.
Then the improbable happened.
The Nuggets closed the third quarter on a 16-5 run and their momentum would carry into the final 12 minutes. In the greatest comeback in franchise playoff history, the Nuggets sealed a 114-105 victory Tuesday night at Pepsi Center thanks to a 39-23 fourth quarter to knot the series at 1-1.
Here are the moments that defined one of the most significant wins in Nuggets history:
6. Point Jokić
Nikola Jokić was a big reason why Denver got going as he had four assists in the third quarter. Two of those assists were to Gary Harris, which sparked him in a monster quarter.
The Nuggets All-Star fed the team’s shooting guard on his monster jam, a play that got a nervous Pepsi Center excited. The center finished the quarter with five points, four rebounds and four dimes.
5. Gary Harris hits from downtown to cut score to 80-71 with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter
Up until this moment, the Nuggets appeared to be trading buckets with the visitors. It was difficult to establish any sort of a run as the Spurs countered nearly every positive offensive possession with a tough midrange shot.
Harris’ three changed everything. It was the play that cut the lead to single digits and made the sellout crowd at Pepsi Center get on its feet. Denver would end the third quarter trailing by just seven because that game-changing play. Harris would finish that quarter with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
4. Jamal Murray hits first field goal in the fourth quarter at 10:46
Murray had struggled with his shot for the opening three quarters, going 0 of 8 with just three points. He made certain those misses wouldn’t follow him into the fourth.
Murray would hit a 13-foot midrange shot early in the fourth and at that very moment, it appeared like he finally found the shot that he was struggling to make. From that point on, the 22-year-old Canadian couldn’t be stopped. More on his performance in a second.
3. Malik Beasley hits three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points in the fourth quarter
Monte Morris drove in the lane and kicked it out to Beasley, who delivered a crucial three to bring the Nuggets within two at 86-84. The moment was so monumental, ESPN’s Zach Lowe had high praise for the reserve guard.
Denver doesn't win that game without Malik Beasley. Big minutes before Jamal Murray went bananas. Overall, still an impressive two-game performance by San Antonio heading home -- where they were 32-9. DEN will have to play well to get a split. Good series brewing.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 17, 2019
Beasley would score five points and added three assists in the final 12 minutes of the game.
2. Jokić steals the ball from Rudy Gay
You can’t win games without defensive stops, right? Jokić read the play and got the turnover from the Spurs’ forward, initiating a transition opportunity for Denver. Murray would hit a three on the other end of the court seconds later.
1. Murray scores 21 in the fourth quarter
As important as all of those aforementioned plays were, the Nuggets don’t win this game if Murray doesn’t have one of the most clutch fourth quarters in franchise history. Here was a young star on the NBA’s biggest stages introducing a global audience to just how deadly he can be when he’s on his game.
Murray shot an astonishing 8 of 9 in the final 12 minutes of the game and hit 2-of-3 from downtown. This is a performance that will be cherished by Nuggets fans for years to come.
That’s how good Murray was in the fourth quarter.