By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Nuggets guard Jamal Murray put on a scoring clinic against the Celtics on Monday night, dropping a career-high 48 points in Denver’s 115-107 win.
Most players don’t get many opportunities to put a 50 in the box score, so the 22-year-old Murray decided to make the most of his chance as the clock wound down. He missed a layup with 17.6 seconds left that would have given him 50 points on the night, and took one final shot at the number when he fired up a three at the buzzer.
Murray was feeling pretty good with himself as the Nuggets walked off the floor with their ninth win of the season. But not everyone was happy with that last three-point bid, taken when the outcome of the game was already determined.
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving had no issue with Murray’s 48 points, aside from the fact the Celtics let that monster evening occur. But Irving did not like Murray firing up an uncontested three-pointer at the buzzer, miffed that Murray didn’t simply dribble out the clock. As the two teams walked off the floor, Irving threw the ball into the stands in frustration.
“The ball deserves to go in the crowd after a [expletive] move like that,” an angry Irving told reporters after the game. “So I threw it in the crowd.”
Asked if Murray’s final three-pointer bothered him, Irving did not hold back.
“What kind of competitor wouldn’t it bother?” he snapped. “I understand if we fouled him, going to the free throw line. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. Obviously I was pissed off at the game, but it’s time to decompress and move on.
“Congratulations to him on scoring 48 points. He did it in a great fashion against us,” Irving said of Murray’s offensive show. “Our defense has to be better, especially against a player like that in the pick and roll. He was a primary concern tonight and he made us pay in certain instances of just making some tough shots and some tough layups.”
Murray said he wasn’t trying to run up the score and he didn’t mean any disrespect to the Celtics. His mind was simply set on going for 50 points.
“I really wasn’t meaning no disrespect. I know half the team over there, so no hard feelings. It was just a fun game and my emotions took over and I was looking for that ball each time down the court,” said Murray, who hit 19 of his 30 shots on Monday night. “It was just, my emotions took over and that’s how I get sometimes when I get going.”
If Irving doesn’t want a player to make a last-second bid for 50 points, maybe the Celtics shouldn’t let a player score 48 points in the first 47:58 of the game. But while Murray was in Irving’s cross hairs, the Boston guard was probably more frustrated with his team’s effort on Monday night. Boston let an 18-point lead slip away in the first half and continued, erased as Murray scored 23 points before the half. The C’s continued to play sluggish out of the break, allowing 34 Denver points in the third quarter. Murray continued his dominance in the game’s final frame, torching Boston’s defense for 19 points.
The Celtics have now dropped two straight to start a five-game road trip, falling to 6-4 on the season. Irving missed a layup in the closing seconds of Saturday’s loss in Indiana, allowing Victor Oladipo to drain a game-winning three with 3.4 seconds left for the Pacers, so you can understand why he’s not too pleased after this two-game losing streak.
Now it’s a matter of turning this frustration into a better team effort and, more importantly, a Celtics win. Irving and the C’s will try to bounce back Thursday night when they continued their West Coast swing in Phoenix against the Suns.