Murray tosses heating pad on floor in Game 2 loss

Sports

DENVER — Nuggets guard Jamal Murray should have been called for a technical foul — but not ejected — for throwing a heating pad on the floor during Denver’s 106-80 Game 2 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, crew chief Marc Davis said after the game.

With Murray on the bench and Karl-Anthony Towns receiving a pass from Kyle Anderson to put Minnesota up 49-30 with 4:41 remaining in the second quarter, the Nuggets point guard tossed the pad on the floor while live game action ensued.

Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope picked up the pad, tossed it to the sidelines and play continued without any whistle from the referees.

“I was the lead official, and I didn’t notice it was on the floor or where it came from until Towns scored,” Davis told a pool reporter. “We weren’t aware it had come from the bench. If we would have been aware it came from the bench, we could have reviewed it under the hostile act trigger. The penalty would have been a technical foul.”

Minnesota coach Chris Finch called Murray’s act “dangerous” and “inexcusable” and said the Wolves tried to reason with the officiating crew to adjudicate in incident.

“We tried to impress upon [the referees] there probably aren’t many fans in the building that have a heat pack, so it probably had to come from the bench, which they found logical,” Finch said. “I’m sure it was a mistake and an oversight and nothing intentional by the officiating at all, but certainly can’t allow that to happen.”

Davis also was asked by the pool reporter why Murray should have received a technical foul and not been ejected from the game.

“For an ejection, you would have to determine it was thrown directly at somebody versus thrown in frustration,” Davis said.

Murray — who finished the game with eight points on 3-for-18 shooting, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 turnovers — exited the arena without speaking to reporters, according to a Nuggets spokesperson. Denver coach Michael Malone said he did not know that Murray had tossed the heating pad.

“I am not even aware of that,” Malone said. “I really can’t comment. But if that’s the case, we will have to see what happens. I wasn’t aware of that. I knew a heating pack was on the floor, but it was not in my field of vision.”

Malone confronted Davis during the first quarter, leaving the bench area to yell at Davis near the free throw line after an offensive foul was not called on Towns for colliding with Murray.

“When [Murray] is out there battling a guy like Karl-Anthony Towns and trying to take charge in what I thought was an easy call and he is not rewarded, I owe it to Jamal Murray or anybody else in that situation to voice my opinion, to voice my concern or disagreement,” Malone said. “That wound up being a big play because things after that did not go our way. Which is unfortunate, but that is my job. I am going to fight for my guys. I think I have to fight even more for them.”

Davis did not call Malone for a technical foul either and also was asked about that exchange by a pool reporter.

“Although Coach Malone was visibly upset about both his team and the officials, I did not hear him say anything unsportsmanlike that warranted a technical foul,” Davis said.

Denver now trails the Wolves in their Western Conference semifinals series 2-0. Only five teams in league history have lost the first two games at home and gone on to advance in a best-of-seven series, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information: the Los Angeles Lakers over the Houston Rockets in 1969; the Rockets over the Phoenix Suns in 1994; the Dallas Mavericks over the Rockets in 2005; the Boston Celtics over the Chicago Bulls in 2017; and the LA Clippers over the Mavericks in 2021.

“Hopefully, we will go [to Minnesota] and put up the fight,” Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said, “and bring the series back.”

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