Jamal Murray, like practically every other member of the Denver Nuggets, has struggled through injuries so far this season. While he is posting career-best scoring numbers, they pale in comparison to the historic statistics he generated in the Orlando bubble, and given Murray’s general inconsistency, there was reason to doubt how sustainable Murray’s postseason performance really was. But as he’s gotten healthy, his numbers have started to rise. He averaged 26.8 points per game in the four preceding Friday’s battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then, in that game against Cleveland, Murray took things to a new level.
The fifth-year forward scored 50 for the first time in his regular-season career (though he did it twice against the Utah Jazz in the playoffs last season), and he did so with one of the most efficient performances in NBA history. Murray missed only four shots en route to a 21-of-25 outing against the Cavaliers.
Murray’s four misses are tied for the fewest any player has had in a 50-point game, as Kyrie Irving also had a 50-point performance with only four misses. He shot 84 percent from the field, the highest ever in a 50-point game, and he is the first player in NBA history to score 50 points without attempting a single free throw.
Murray is not the first Nugget to score 50 points in a game this season. Nikola Jokic did so earlier this month and needed 33 shots to get there. They are the third duo under the age of 25 to accomplish the feat in the same season, according to ESPN Stats and Info, joining Jerry West and Rudy LaRusso along with Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson.
It’s a fitting honor for Denver’s two young stars this season. With so many injuries around their roster so far, Jokic and Murray have had to carry the Nuggets far more than Denver had planned. The Nuggets are 16-13 so far this season, disappointing relative to expectations, but impressive in light of all this team has had to fight through. Jokic did the heavy lifting for most of the early season, and now, Murray is joining him as one of the brightest young stars in the NBA.