Murray swishes a half-court heave at the halftime buzzer for the Nuggets in Game 3 vs. Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Denver’s Jamal Murray scooped up Minnesota’s errant inbounds pass near the sideline, rebalanced his body after carefully keeping his feet in and launched a 55-foot shot at the end of the first half.

Murray crouched down for some extra coaxing of his heave from behind the half-court line, watched the ball sail on track toward the basket and — swish! — struck a pose right in front of the broadcast table.

“So sick. You make something like that, it’s like `OK, at least we know our point guard’s hot,’” said Aaron Gordon, who had 25 points on 12-for-13 shooting Sunday night in the series-tying 115-107 victory over the Timberwolves in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.

As TNT announcer Kevin Harlan exuberantly called the improbable make, the Nuggets raced over to swarm their teammate in appreciation of the 15-point halftime lead he’d just given them. The celebration didn’t include star Nikola Jokic, who claimed he was already headed to the locker room to rest.

That was quite the dagger Murray delivered for the defending champions.

“Nothing crazy. It felt good from the moment it left my hand,” said Murray, who had only four points until that shot and finished with 19. “It’s as simple as that.

The Nuggets scored eight straight points over the last 20 seconds of the second quarter to fend off a resurgence by the home team after the deficit had been whittled to seven points on a 3-pointer by Anthony Edwards. According to Sportradar research, the Nuggets were the first NBA team to score eight points in the final 20 seconds of a second quarter since they did so in a playoff game against San Antonio on April 24, 2005.

After Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer, Edwards lost control of the ball on his drive into the lane. Michael Porter Jr. answered with a fast-break dunk off the outlet pass by Nikola Jokic. Then after Nickeil Alexander-Walker desperately inbounded the ball for the Timberwolves toward Jaden McDaniels, Murray swooped in for the finishing touch on a stellar first half for the Nuggets.

“It’s inexcusable to have a segment like that,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “We had done a good job of chipping back into the game.”



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