Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray dished out a career-high 15 assists in a 126-118 win against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night at Pepsi Center to extend their win streak to four games.
Murray, a third-year point guard out of Kentucky, was in the giving mood all night in Denver’s final home game before Christmas. He eclipsed his previous of 10 helpers, coincidentally put up against the Mavericks with 1:40 to go in the second quarter and finished with 13 at the half. He finished the night with a double-double, his second of the season, adding 22 points on 10-18 shooting in 39 minutes.
“I just pass the ball. They make shots,” Murray said. “That’s all my teammates. My job’s easy. I come off screens, being aggressive looking for my shot and if it’s not there make the easy decision and my teammates make shots.”
After trailing by as many as seven early on the Nuggets looked to seize control of a seesaw battle late in the third quarter. That’s when they went on a 14-0 run the last 3:54 of the quarter to take a double-digit lead at 105-95 into the fourth. But Dallas, losers of two in a row coming into the contest, would respond, going on a 9-2 run to start the fourth and pull to within three with three with 9:14 remaining.
However, Denver (21-9) would ward them off, shutting the door on its opposition down the stretch on its way to completing its homestand undefeated at 4-0.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokić continued his monster play in the month of December, scoring a game high 32 points to go along with 16 rebounds and four assists. Trey Lyles scored 16 points off the bench as did Monte Morris who also chipped in five assists and two steals. Juancho Hernangómez and Malik Beasley had 12 points apiece and power forward Mason Plumlee came up a rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards.
“Everything,” said Malone when asked what he’s seen in Jokic lately. “We need him to score. He scores 32. We need him to rebound. He does that. We need him to facilitate and make plays for his teammates. He does that. We need him to do a lot on defense, be up in pick and rolls and fly around.”
Malone continued: “Nikola has shown everybody in the NBA, with three starters (Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap) that he is a Most Valuable Player candidate.”
Harrison Barnes led the way offensively for the Mavericks (15-14), scoring 30 in a loss. Standout rookie Luka Doncic dropped 23 points and dished out 12 assists while snatching down six rebounds. Wesley Matthews (14), DeAndre Jordan (11) and J.J. Barea added 10 points in the loss.