Many pundits have soured on Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in recent weeks after the number one seed in the Western Conference suffered a few uncharacteristic losses over the past few weeks. And for the first half of the Nuggets' Wednesday night contest against the Washington Wizards, it looked like they were on their way to another dogfight that could go either way after the Wizards took a 57-55 lead heading into halftime. But Jamal Murray decided to put an end to this nonsense.
According to Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, Murray gave an impassioned locker room talk at halftime to try and light a fire underneath the entire team.
“We’re (BS-ing) right now,” Malone recalled Murray saying at intermission, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I thought [Jamal] was a leader tonight. We need our guys to speak. It just can’t always be on the old heads.”
To the Nuggets' credit, it seemed like Jamal Murray's rhetoric worked like a charm. They came out of halftime blowing the Wizards out of the water with a 39-16 quarter, with the Nuggets point guard contributing six points and four assists to round out what was such a dominant effort.
What made Murray's halftime talk work as well as it did was that the Nuggets star hasn't always been the most vocal leader in their locker room.
“Not really,” Murray answered when asked whether he often raises his voice during locker room discussions. “Here and there. I like to lead by example. I just tried to keep it organized and make sure everybody knows the task at hand. We’ve been lazy the past couple of games.”
And as Nikola Jokic said, when someone who prefers to keep quiet decided to speak up, people have no choice but to listen.
“Of course when someone doesn’t speak and then he says something that is important or … true, it helps the team,” Jokic said.
With only a little over three weeks to go before the postseason begins, the Nuggets will have to return to their early-season habits that made them look like a legitimate contender. And with Jamal Murray's emergence as a vocal leader, the Nuggets may have what they need to remain focused on the task at hand.