SAN ANTONIO – Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray laid face-first on the ground for eight seconds before he was finally able to roll over onto his right side.
Murray caught the brunt of another Jakob Poeltl pick, the second time Murray has been clipped by a knee from the Spurs’ center. It’s the third time this series Poeltl has caught a Nuggets player with his roving screens.
The Spurs eventually pulled away, winning 120-103, to force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday, but Nuggets coach Michael Malone still had questions about the play.
“I think there have been some illegal screens that have been missed, and the response from the league (after the Nuggets submitted the plays for review) has been that we’re right,” Malone said. “But for some reason, they don’t catch them during the game. Obviously Jamal got taken out on that play. I don’t know if it was dirty or not.”
With 10:38 left in the third quarter of Game 6, Spurs point guard Derrick White rolled right along the perimeter as Poeltl appeared to hit Murray’s thigh with his left knee. White was freed for an open 3-pointer, which he missed.
“I think I am setting legal screens,” Poeltl said afterward. “If I’m not, somebody is going to let me know about it. I’m not really worried about it.”
The Nuggets collected the rebound and then immediately called timeout as the team’s trainer tended to Murray. Malone went straight to an official, pointing at Murray on the ground as he made his case.
The Nuggets staff was told by officials that Nikola Jokic had pushed Poeltl into Murray, and therefore there was no illegal screen.
Murray, who finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting, stayed in the game and buried a floater on the next shot. Minutes later, with the Nuggets trailing 71-67, Murray was called for an offensive foul after shoving Poeltl in the chest.
Murray, who was also clipped by Poeltl in Game 3 while trying to run past a screen, dressed slowly in the locker room before declining to speak to reporters after the game.
Nuggets guard Gary Harris suffered a knee to the thigh from Poeltl in Tuesday’s Game 4.
Regardless of intention or not, the Nuggets need to regroup ahead of Saturday. They were outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter, allowed San Antonio to shoot 57 percent from the field, and spoiled a career-high 43-point night from Nikola Jokic. San Antonio’s reserves also enjoyed a 36-13 edge.
“We need to go there and give our best ,” Jokic said of a Game 7. “Just go out there and work and punch people, play physical, setting screens, whatever we need to do just to get the win.”