PORTLAND, Ore. – Jamal Murray’s 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left led the Denver Nuggets to a thrilling 121-120 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Damian Lillard had 40 points for the Trail Blazers, including a 3-pointer that gave them a one-point lead with 8.8 seconds left.
Murray responded with a 3 down the left side for the final 20 overs of the game.
“It was a game for (Nikola Jokic) to get some space and let him work,” Murray said. “He was a bit distracted and told me to bring it. I turned and looked at the clock, saw that there was no need to hurry, and just started my movement.
Jokic had 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for Denver to snap a three-game losing streak from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
After missing all of last season while recovering from knee surgery, Murray scored 21 points in a memorable performance.
“I told Jamal you have to learn this season that it’s a process because you’re back,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “You’ll be better in a month, after Christmas and after the season, because you’ll keep going the right way. And tonight is a good step in that direction. “
Aaron Gordon had 20 points and Bones Hyland had 13 off the bench.
Lillard finished with 12 assists and 9 3-pointers. Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and nine rebounds, but Anfernee Simons was 3-for-12 and missed all six of her attempts from behind the arc.
Portland’s last-possession defense against Murray frustrated his coach.
“It didn’t work out well at all,” Chauncey Billups said. “We came out in two. The last shot you can live with is 3. A 2 don’t beat us. We’re going to overtime, no big deal. We gave up a 3-pointer. It was terrible.’
The Nuggets mounted a comeback early in the fourth quarter, cutting the Blazers’ lead to 104-103 with 7:07 left on Murray’s 3-pointer.
Jokic’s jumper gave the Nuggets a 105-104 lead for the first time in the second half.
Gordon’s tip gave the Nuggets a 118-117 lead with 17 seconds left before Lillard’s final 3-pointer made it 120-118. After Murray’s 3, the Nuggets fumbled Portland’s final possession.
Lillard scored eight points in the first four minutes of the third quarter to help the Blazers build a nine-point lead. He had 18 points in the quarter, leading the Blazers to a 99-89 lead in the fourth.