The Morning After: Was Jamal Murray “disrespectful” in Denver Nuggets' win over Los Angeles Lakers? – The Denver Post

The Nuggets snapped a two-game losing streak by topping the Los Angeles Lakers 125-116 Friday, a crucial win for Denver to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.

Here are six takeaways from the victory:

1. Murray “disrespectful?” A little rivalry is clearly forming between Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray and the Lakers. Murray is an emotional young player, unafraid to flex his muscles after a tough finish inside or whip out the “blue arrow” when he nails a big 3-pointer. But Lakers coach Luke Walton said Murray engaged in some “disrespectful” trash talk late in Friday’s contest, prompting Walton to yell at Murray from the bench. Don’t forget, the last time these two teams played in December, Murray dribbled around rookie Lonzo Ball in the final seconds of a Nuggets’ comeback win.

“I went out there and played with the fire that everybody loves to watch me play with,” Murray said. “I can’t control what the other team’s gonna feel. I’m just gonna go out there and hoop, and whoever takes it to heart and takes their losses salty, I can’t do anything about that.”

Ball called Murray’s behavior “circus stuff” after the game, but added “I don’t really worry about Jamal Murray.” Here are some other reactions:

Nuggets coach Michael Malone: “All I know is that Jamal’s going out there competing (and) playing hard. We don’t win the game without Jamal Murray. I think it’s OK to play with emotion, and some guys thrive in that situation. Jamal’s able to play with emotion, but I never want it to border on the line of being disrespectful to your opponent. If I watch the film and see that, I’ll definitely talk to Jamal about that.”

Nuggets forward Paul Millsap: “I just (saw) a man excited about getting a few buckets. I don’t know what they’re mad for.”

2. Building chemistry. Did it officially take five games for Nikola Jokic and Millsap to rekindle their frontcourt chemistry? Maybe. They played off each other beautifully Friday night, both finishing with 21 points and six rebounds and combining to shoot 16-of-26 from the floor. Millsap had it going early, making 4-of-5 shots in eight first-quarter minutes, including a strong baseline drive and flush off of a loose ball. And they connected on one of the most important plays of the night, when Jokic drew a double-team and found Millsap under the basket for the and-1 finish that put Denver up for good. After the game, Millsap continued to stress that Jokic should be the focal point of the offense. Jokic and Malone, meanwhile, praised Millsap’s unselfishness.

Millsap: “(Jokic has) just got to be him. Continue to do him. Don’t worry about me. I’m gonna fit in. We run (the offense) through him. He’s the engine that goes. When we’re feeding off him and playing off him, that’s when we’re at our best.”

Malone: “(Millsap is) not asking for touches. He’s not saying, ‘Give me the (darn) ball.’ He’s just out there trying to find ways to fit in and help this team win. He knew when he came back that this team was playing at a high level. Not many vets would do that, who have accomplished as much as Paul Millsap has.”

Jokic: “That says a lot of things about that guy (Millsap), the guy who’s an all-star. He actually doesn’t want any attention. He just wants to fit (in with) the team. He knows if he fits with the team, we’re gonna find him.”

3. It’s gotta be the … cornbread? Julius Randle was terrific for the Lakers, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. There is a bit of a subplot here with the Nuggets, as Millsap believes the ligament in his left wrist tore in November while battling with Randle. The two exchanged words early in Friday’s game. But after the contest, Millsap chalked up their physicality to them both being “Southern boys” (Randle is from Dallas and Millsap is from Monroe, La.)

“He (ate) more cornbread than me, obviously,” Millsap quipped. “He’s a little stronger.”

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