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Two tweaked ankles, flu-like symptoms: Jamal Murray “can’t catch a break” to begin the season

Christian Clark Avatar
October 23, 2018

Of all the ways to deal with taking a knee to the leg, chasing Steph Curry around a maze of screens has to be among the least medically advisable. That’s what Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray did down the stretch of Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

In the third quarter, Murray collided with 7-footer Damian Jones near midcourt. He went back to the locker room to have the Nuggets’ medical team take a look and was officially diagnosed with a left tibia contusion. Murray was sore, but that didn’t stop him from playing all but 1 minute and 17 seconds of a hard-fought fourth quarter.

“I caught a knee in the bone, and my whole leg went numb,” Murray told BSN Denver. “I was just trying to get that sensation back.”

The tibia contusion was the latest in a series of injuries and illnesses Murray has had to overcome in the early parts of the 2018-19 season. Murray tweaked both of his ankles before the regular season began — the left one during training camp and the right one in a Sept. 30 preseason game against the Lakers. Murray has also been playing through flu-like symptoms. He sniffled his way through his question-and-answer session with the media Tuesday morning.

“It’s just tough,” Murray said. “I think it’s more frustrating than anything going into every game knowing that there’s something. It’s the ankle right now, which I’ve got to wear braces for. Right now, it’s always something for me. I can’t catch a break right now. I’m just trying to fight through it and not let whatever is affecting me physically also affect my mind.”

Murray went 0-for-9 from the field Sunday. It was the first time he failed to make a field goal in a game since an 0-for-6 performance against the Sacramento Kings as a rookie in February 2017. Afterward, Nuggets coach Michael Malone hinted that Murray’s struggles shooting the ball were tied to the soreness he was feeling all over.

“Jamal has been battling some injuries if you will,” Malone said. “Obviously, he struggled a little bit tonight not from a lack of effort but making shots.”

Murray has been wearing braces on both ankles to prevent the tweaks from getting worse. He is expected to start against the Sacramento Kings tonight despite the soreness in his ankles and left leg. He’ll match up against De’Aron Fox, who’s averaging 20.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting and 7.7 assists for the Kings.

“We can’t give him easy buckets,” Murray said. “We’ve got to get back in transition, which he excels in. Make him shoot.”

Murray is not one to miss games or make excuses. He’s only sat out of one regular-season game in what’s now his third NBA season. He played through a double sports hernia for most of his rookie year. He will continue to be in the lineup and hold himself to a high standard even if he’s not 100 percent.

“A jump shot is a jump shot,” Murray said. “There’s no excuse for missing a jump shot in my opinion. I’m always going to be harder on myself. I’ve just got to lock in.”

Something’s gotta give

The Sacramento Kings (1-2) have put up some gaudy point totals in the early going. They scored 117 and 129 in losing efforts to the Jazz and Pelicans last week before hanging 131 in Sunday’s win over the Thunder. They’re averaging 114.2 points per possessions over their first three games, which is the sixth-best mark in the NBA.

Tonight, Sacramento will see if it can keep it going against Denver’s surprisingly stingy defense. The Nuggets have held all of their opponents to under 100 points on their way to a 3-0 start. They’re ranked first in defensive efficiency by a comfortable margin.

“Maybe we’re going to be the No. 1 defensive team in the league,” Nikola Jokic said. “You don’t know that.”

The odds of that happening are next to none over the long haul. But there’s no denying that Denver looks like a vastly improved defensive team after finishing 25th, 29th and 23rd in defensive efficiency in the first three years of the Malone era.

Seven Kings players are averaging double figures. The lightning-quick Fox (20.3 ppg) leads the way. He’s followed by Willie Cauley-Stein (18.7 ppg), Buddy Hield (17.7 ppg) and Iman Shumpert (17.7 ppg). Second overall pick Marvin Bagley III is averaging 12.7 points per game in a reserve role.

Nuggets Probable Starters

Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Torrey Craig, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic

Inactives: Will Barton (core and hip), Isaiah Thomas (right hip), Michael Porter Jr. (lower back), Jarred Vanderbilt (right foot)

Kings Probable Starters

De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Iman Shumpert, Nemanja Bjelica, Willie Cauley-Stein

Inactives: Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee), Kosta Koufos (hamstring)

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