I’m still attempting to process what I witnessed last night.
Down two with 17 seconds left on the clock, the Utah Jazz inbounded the ball to their burgeoning assassin, Donovan Mitchell. That’s easy money, right? Well, it would’ve been had Denver’s Gary Harris not knocked the ball loose and set up a fast break for Jamal Murray on the other end—except Murray dished the rock to Torrey Craig, who missed the damn layup to seal the win.
Chaos ensued as Utah grabbed the rebound and Mike Conley hauled ass to the other end of the floor to heave up a prayer from deep that...much to Mitchell’s dismay, rimmed out at the buzzer.
Denver escaped with a 80-78 victory and became the first team since the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to bounce back from a 3-1 series deficit in the playoffs and emerge victorious. They also earned the prestigious honor of getting their asses stomped out by the Clippers in the Western Conference Semis. But congrats!
My immediate thought at the time was, “Why in the hell didn’t Murray just force the Jazz to foul him?” Then he could’ve secured the W at the free throw line and saved Nuggets coach Mike Malone and the millions of us watching from home from hyperventilating. But had that happened, that would’ve robbed us of reactions like these:
There was also this touching moment between Mitchell and Murray after the game. The two had spent the entire series putting the league on notice by exchanging otherworldly 50-point outbursts.
“It was a great battle,” Murray told reporters. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m speechless.”
“I’d go to war with any one of these guys in the locker room, any one of these coaches,” Mitchell said. “We could’ve easily chalked it up in the first half. We have grit and fight. That’s all you can really ask for.”
But as painful as the loss was, Mitchell made it a point to acknowledge that it’s nothing compared to what the families who have been victimized by police brutality and racialized violence endure.
“The way I’m feeling right now is nothing compared to that,” he said. “I appreciate the NBA and everybody in this league for continuing to push that message. It’s not stopping. I just wanted to say that. Whether we won or lost, that was going to be the first thing said. I should’ve said it first.”
As for the Nuggets, now would be the opportune time to rest up for their series against the Clippers, since they apparently missed the memo that they have a game on Thursday.
Clap it up for the Nuggets, y’all.