SAN FRANCISCO — Denver Nuggets star point guard Jamal Murray went down in immediate pain after injuring his left knee on a drive to the basket in the final minute of a 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
In what appeared to be a noncontact injury, Murray crumpled to the ground in pain, clutching his left knee and pounding the court with his hand after trying to split two Warriors defenders on a drive with 50.6 seconds remaining and the Nuggets trailing 111-104.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone came out to check on Murray after the injury and immediately yelled, asking for more medical attention.
The medical staff brought out a wheelchair, but Murray declined and hopped off the court with the aid of two staff members while trying not to put any weight on his left leg. News of the injury spread quickly as players all around the NBA sent their well wishes on Twitter.
After the game, a visibly shaken Malone said the team was holding its breath as it waits to see MRI results on Murray’s knee.
“As of right now, obviously very down locker room,” Malone said. “…No definitive answer right now. We will wait for the imaging and go from there.
“Some of the [assistant] coaches said when they watched the replay it looked like he hyperextended it. He just came back [from a right knee injury], he was gone for four days. His [right] knee had been bothering him… just an awful feeling. Keep Jamal in your thoughts and prayers, and hopefully we will get some good news.”
Asked what was going through his mind when he saw Murray go down, Nikola Jokic replied, “It’s really sad to see anybody in pain. The guy who is the warrior, who is going to fight through everything, was in pain.”
The star guard finished Monday’s game with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 33 minutes in his return from the previous knee injury.
“Everybody in our locker room is thinking about Jamal Murray,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “And we’re hoping for the best. We hope he’s not injured, that was a really scary fall and there was silence in the gym. Everybody is so concerned for him, so fingers crossed.”
Warriors star Stephen Curry was hopeful Murray’s injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared.
“My heart goes out to him,” Curry said. “I hope that he gets the best news possible. I was right there when he went down and that’s always tough. Any injury in this game, but one in that kind of situation — I hope that he gets good news and he has a speedy recovery. He’s such an amazing talent, you saw what he did last year.”
The Nuggets had won 17 of 20 games before dropping their past two. After adding versatile forward Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline, they were excited about their championship potential behind MVP candidate Jokic and Murray. They made it to the Western Conference finals last year after Murray enjoyed a breakout postseason, averaging 31.6 points, 6.3 assists and 5.6 rebounds while scoring 50 points twice in the first round against Utah.
He averaged 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 19 playoff games.
“Y’all know what he means to us, he’s ‘the dude’ — Nikola and Jamal,” Michael Porter Jr. said, describing what Murray means to the Nuggets. “They brought this team to new heights. You talk about their closing all the time. We need Jamal … but we are more worried about his well-being right now, how he is individually than the team. The team right now is an afterthought.”
This season, Murray has been hobbled by injuries and entered Monday night averaging 21.3 points.
“Everybody knows Jamal is a huge, huge piece to this team, alongside Nikola [Jokic],” Nuggets point guard Monte Morris said. “Averaging bunch load of points and just his leadership out there, he does everything. Seeing him go down like that, never, never that you could even think that was going to happen. He lifts so much, his body is strong. It is something that is a touchy subject. I don’t even like speaking about injuries.”