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Defending Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, NFL Legend Blames All Other Nuggets Players For Playoffs Loss

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Defending Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, NFL Legend Blames All Other Nuggets Players For Playoffs Loss

The Denver Nuggets‘ title defense ended in the second round as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat them 98-90 in Game 7 at the Ball Arena and eliminated them from the playoffs. The defending champions led by 15 points at halftime and were cruising to a win, but a horrendous display on the offensive end in the second half cost them the game.

While Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic did not cover themselves in glory in the final two quarters, former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson pinned the blame on Denver’s other three starters and the bench for the loss. On Undisputed, the analyst said,

“When you look at the Denver’s role players, they did not step up. Two guys in double figures and both of them are the stars. Everybody else was like they forgot how to play basketball at home. You cannot win that way.” 

Johnson is spot on. Murray and Jokic combined for 69 points, while the other six Nuggets players combined for only 21, with none managing to hit double figures. On the flip side, all five Timberwolves starters scored at least 10 points and Naz Reid provided stellar support from the bench with 11 points, of which eight came in the fourth.

While Murray and Jokic shot 13-of-27 and 13-of-28 from the floor, respectively, the rest of the team combined for only 8-of-27. The Nuggets superstar duo will take the brunt of the blame, but the supporting cast’s horrendous outing cost Denver a Western Conference Finals berth.

What makes this outing even more surprising is the fact that in their first-round series against the Lakers, the Nuggets’ bench showcased their depth, and outscored the Lakers’ bench in all 4 victories. Much was expected of the second-stringers in the Wolves series as well, but the stifling defense by the Wolves’ role players proved to be too much to handle for the defending champs.

Skip Bayless credits Timberwolves’ role players for stepping up

While most fans and analysts continue to dissect and discuss the Nuggets’ shortcomings, Skip Bayless credited the Timberwolves’ supporting cast for helping their team mount a 20-point comeback when Anthony Edwards struggled on the offensive end. The veteran analyst said,

Anthony [Edwards] had a rough game shooting the basketball. In the fourth quarter alone, he goes 1-for-8. If I told you that [he’d shoot this poorly] going into the fourth, you’d say, ‘They’re done. They’re not gonna win the fourth quarter.’ Instead, everybody else came to the party. His teammates went 8-of-11 in the fourth quarter and made 12-of-15 free throws.”

Bayless’ assessment is apt. Despite Edwards’ poor shooting and Karl-Anthony Towns playing only five minutes because of foul trouble in the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves outscored the Nuggets 32-23. Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid, DPOY Rudy Gobert, and forward Jaden McDaniels combined for 23 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line to ice the game.

On the flip side, the Nuggets’ players outside of Murray and Jokic scored only three points in the fourth quarter. While Denver’s superstar duo left everything on the court, their supporting cast failed miserably and cost them a shot at defending their title.

Post Edited By:Sameen Nawathe

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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