Home Denver News How Paul Millsap kept the Nuggets afloat while Jamal Murray’s shot went...

How Paul Millsap kept the Nuggets afloat while Jamal Murray’s shot went AWOL


It took Jamal Murray in cheat code mode — if you’re rocking NBA Jam on the Super Nintendo, press B, B, B, B, B, B, B, then press and hold Up, Y, B to simulate Murray’s fourth quarter — to drag the Nuggets, kicking and screaming, over the end line. However, without Paul Millsap kicking tail and taking names at the beginning of the race, Denver’s crime might’ve spent even more time Tuesday night spinning its bloody wheels.

“He was great for us,” Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said of Millsap, who dropped 20 points — 15 in the first half — on San Antonio to begin turning the engine on a 114-105 Game 2 victory over the Spurs at the Pepsi Center. “We were kind of confused in the beginning, and he just took over … Just his experience, like, his calmness, that put us back in the game. ”

While rsquo & we;re toasting the heroes in the end, how about a little love for the guy pulling the sled in the start, too? Millsap, the Nuggets’ unflappable 34-year-old power forward, was in charge of 11 of Denver’s 21 first-quarter points and accounted for half of the squad’s first eight field goals, keeping the hosts afloat as the offensive woes that bedeviled the majority of the roster in Game 1 started cranking right back up again, one blasted brick at a time.

“(I was) just being competitive,” Millsap said. “I think it was a conscious effort to just go out there and try to be competitive, regardless of what occurs, attack the basket, try to get fouls and … (try to) help, make the ideal play. ”

Millsap hopped back on the horse during the Nuggets’ comeback for the ages — Denver outscored the Spurs 55-30 over the match ’s final 17 minutes — in the fourth quarter, crashing the lane with Denver down five. On a left-handed layup with 6:49 left in the competition, the Louisiana native drew a foul, then slid across the floor, fanny-first, in a semi-acrobatic descent, then converted a 3-point play that trimmed San Antonio’s cushion to 95-93.

“When you see him playing, he’s so individual and nothing can surprise him,” stated Jokic, who snatched a game-high 13 boards and added 21 points. “He can make — I mean, he can shoot some superb shots. However, rsquo & that;s what he does. ”

Tuesday marked the 14th time in 10 postseason runs that Millsap has collected at least 20 points in an NBA playoff game. The veteran forward’s final appearance in the postseason before this month was in 2017 as a member of the Atlanta Hawks; two Aprils ago, Millsap dropped 19, 27, 29, 19, 21 and 31 points, respectively, over six first-round contests with the Washington Wizards but the Hawks lost the series, 4-2.

“Paul’s got so much experience,” said Monte Morris, who chipped in with 11 points and six assists off the bench. “(Those are) the sort of performances the team expects from him. We know what he’s capable of doing.  I believe this (was) his 80th playoff game (Tuesday). ”

It was his 89th. And 44th start. But, hey, when you’ve having this much fun knocking Rudy Gay and (Davis) Bertans about, who’s counting?

“So we lean on Paul, we moved through him a lot and he kept us in the game,” Morris continued. “We’re just happy that Paul got it moving. He’s had it moving — since the All-Star break, I thinkhe’s been locked . ”

Over 24 post-All-Star game looks in the regular season, Millsap averaged 13.4 points and 8.3 boardsup 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game from his pre-break pace. And the Spurs continued to double-team Jokic he got his paws in the lane, sage coach Gregg Popovich daring anyone aside from the Serbian to try and beat him.

Millsap obliged.

Murray obliged.

“We had to have this one,” Millsap stressed. “Going 0-2 into San Antonio would’ve been a tough situation for us. But to pull this one it’s amazing.

“It gives us confidence, a little momentum. And it shows us how to play. I think down in that 6-minute mark in the third quarter on out is how we need to play basketball. And it’s good to see that here. We’ve got to take it on the street. ”

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