The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers always seem to produce magic when they step on the court together, and Thursday night's thriller would fit right in with their instant classic quadruple-overtime game in the 2019 playoffs and the double-overtime affair from the 2021 postseason.
As the final contest of a light three-game night, these teams took center stage and closed the show in style. The lead changed hands a stunning nine times in the final three minutes, including four times in the final 30 seconds, before Jamal Murray hit a step-back 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds on the clock to give the Nuggets a 121-120 win in Portland.
An early fourth-quarter surge gave the Blazers an 11-point lead, but the Nuggets quickly countered to get back in the game. With Nikola Jokic resting, Murray took over and scored nine points in a two-minute span to cut the deficit to one and force a Blazers timeout. From there, the teams traded bucket after bucket.
We'll fast forward to the final minute, which is when the action really heated up. Anfernee Simons knocked down a mid-range jumper to put the Blazers in front, 117-116, with 28.6 seconds to play. Coming out of the timeout, the Nuggets tried to go to Jokic, who missed on his drive but was bailed out by an Aaron Gordon tip-in that put the Nuggets back up by one.
The Blazers played it straight with no timeout, and pushed the ball right back up the floor, where it appeared to be Dame Time. He sank one of his patented step-back triples to cap a 40-point night and give the Blazers a 120-118 lead with 9.3 seconds on the clock, then told the Nuggets to call a time out.
Unfortunately for Lillard, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone took his advice and drew up the game-winning play for Murray, who had as much ice in his veins as the Blazers star. Murray wasn't the most efficient for most of the night, but he finished with 21 points and eight assists, and had by far his biggest moment since returning from his torn ACL.