The Denver Nuggets are inevitable. Despite trailing the Los Angeles Lakers for most of Game 2, the Nuggets were never out of the game. And when the final buzzer had sounded, there they were, finishing in victory lane, thanks to Jamal Murray's heroics. With the game tied at 99, Murray, despite struggling from the field for most of the night, took on Anthony Davis in isolation and drained a stepback midrange jumper right at the buzzer, prompting a chorus of cheers from a raucous Ball Arena crowd.

Jamal Murray was shooting 8-23 prior to this possession; he had plenty of good looks all throughout the night but, as was the story for most of the Nuggets, it seemed as if nearly every one of his attempts went in and out. But this time, when it mattered the most, his shot tickled the twine, with the Nuggets bench exploding in euphoria while the LeBron James and the Lakers were left with a stunned look on their faces.

Murray is already a postseason legend entering the 2024 NBA playoffs, and this game-winner only adds to his ever-growing display of clutch play during games of the highest stakes. The reigning champion Nuggets remain the favorite to win it all, and it's their ability to pull wins like this out of the bag that makes them so difficult to knock out in a seven-game series.

Nuggets give Lakers deja vu

During the 2023 NBA playoffs, the Nuggets swept the Lakers. But that series was much closer than it looks. The Lakers led by double-digits at multiple points in that series, only for Denver to flex their composure amidst adversity and mount a comeback over and over again

On Tuesday, the Lakers certainly experienced some flashbacks to last year's Western Conference Finals. They put up a performance that, on most nights, was enough for a win, but the Nuggets' defense came alive at the best possible time. They held the Lakers to a horrid 9-27 shooting performance in the final 20 minutes of the game as Denver outscored LA, 46-25, during that stretch, as per Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints.

Only LeBron James showed up for the Lakers during crunch time. During the final 20 minutes, James went 5-9 from the field, including a monster jam late in the game, two three-pointers that kept the Nuggets at bay earlier in the fourth quarter, and a clutch layup to give the Lakers their final lead of the game at 99-97. The rest of the team, however, floundered (they went 4-18 during the aforementioned stretch).

Credit must go to the Nuggets' defense for ratcheting up the intensity, but the Lakers got away from what made them so successful in the first half — inside-out play centered on Anthony Davis. This has been an issue for the Lakers all season long, and the Nuggets masterfully exploited it.

It became a battle of execution by the end of the game; Nikola Jokic got the ball on the interior plenty of times, Aaron Gordon won a 50-50 ball that led to an emphatic Michael Porter Jr. three that tied the game at 95, and this only set the stage for Jamal Murray to take over the game.

Jamal Murray calls game

Jamal Murray, at one point during Game 2, was shooting 3-16 from the field. That simply won't cut it, even for a team as solid as the reigning champion Nuggets. The Murray and Nikola Jokic two-man game remains the heartbeat of the Nuggets, and if one is off their game, Denver will have a hard time winning.

But you can never count a player of Murray's caliber out for too long. He made six of his last eight shots from the field, including five of his last six — two of which came in the final minute of their resounding Game 2 win.

In fact, during the final minute, Jamal Murray scored all six of the Nuggets' points — two via a free throw, and four coming from the midrange, including the go-ahead points at the death. Murray remains indefatigable, and it's his even-keeled disposition even in the face of adversity and pressure that allows him to deliver at the most crucial junctures of the season.

Murray's playoff legend began back in 2020, when he put up multiple 50-pieces against the Utah Jazz and tore the Los Angeles Clippers' defense to shreds while leading the Nuggets to two 3-1 comebacks.

And then despite missing two postseason runs due to an ACL injury, Murray triumphantly returned last year, putting up eight 30-point games in the playoffs, including three in the WCF against the Lakers and a 30-point triple-double in the NBA Finals.

Jamal Murray is the encyclopedic definition of a playoff riser, and on Tuesday night, he showed it yet again at the Lakers' expense.