Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has made himself Public Enemy No. 1 for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans. When Murray and the Nuggets return to Staples Center on Tuesday night, the arena should feature a playoff-type atmosphere.
Murray initially drew the Lakers’ ire when he dribbled around rookie guard Lonzo Ball in an earlier matchup. Following a recent Nuggets’ win, Murray antagonized the Los Angeles bench in the waning moments.
Those antics set up for what could be one of the Lakers’ most exciting contests of the 2017-18 season.
"We all remembered it," Ball told reporters when discussing Murray’s actions. "It's a punk move. But like I said, we're not going to get into it. He can do whatever he's going to do."
Lakers head coach Luke Walton described Murray as “disrespectful” with the way he’s played the game in their previous meetings. Murray didn’t back down from his actions, something that will surely add intensity.
"I can't control what the other team's gonna feel," Murray said. "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."
Even though the Lakers will likely not make the playoffs, their young team has built significant momentum heading into the future. Los Angeles has greatly improved upon its season from a year ago, and the Lakers are in position to improve their roster via the draft and free agency.
The Nuggets will have a lot riding on the line at Staples Center. If the playoffs were to begin today, they’d be on the outside looking in. Denver is currently one game in the loss column behind the eighth-seeded LA Clippers.
The Clippers, Nuggets, and Utah Jazz are all jockeying for playoff seeding, but only 1.5 games separate teams 4 through 10 in the Western Conference playoff race.
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