CLEVELAND: Not himself of late, Jamal Murray got a lecture from Nuggets coach Michael Malone about being more aggressive and not passing up open shots.
He listened — and launched. Murray scored a career-high 50 points and became the first player in NBA history to get that many without trying a free throw as Denver adjusted to a schedule change by handing the Cleveland Cavaliers their ninth straight loss, 120-103 on Friday night.
Following the game, Murray was unaware that he had done something unique.
‘’I was just making my shots,’’ he said nonchalantly between sips of a postgame smoothie. ‘’It’s kind of cool to make history. It’s a cool stat.’’
Murray was cooler than cool. While All-Star starter Nikola Jokic added a triple-double on his birthday, it was Murray’s night.
The smooth guard made 21 of 25 shots, including 8 of 10 3-pointers and scored 30 in the second half. He added six rebounds and two steals during 38 electrifying minutes.
With the Cavs still hanging around in the fourth, Murray made three 3-pointers in a 65-second span to push Denver’s lead to 21. He celebrated his third straight long-range make — an off-balance number from 33 feet — to open the fourth by pounding his chest and screaming toward fans in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Murray scored Denver’s first 13 in the last quarter, and then passed his previous career best of 46 points by draining another 3 – on Jokic’s 10th assist — with 4 minutes left. Murray capped his incredible performance with a resounding dunk before being replaced with 2:23 left.
Collin Sexton scored 23 and Jarrett Allen 20 for Cleveland, which had a couple days to prepare for the Nuggets but still couldn’t stop them.