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Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray throws heat pack on court during game, slammed as 'inexcusable and dangerous'

The point guard hurled the object into the feet of both the Minnesota Timberwolves and his own teammates during Denver's home playoff loss.
Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets warms up.
Jamal Murray in Denver on Friday.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray threw a heat pack onto the court during his team's playoff loss Monday night, opening himself up to potential discipline for the unsportsmanlike act.

Murray was seated at the far end of Denver's bench when he hurled the object onto the court with about 4:40 left in the second quarter as Timberwolves big man and fellow Kentucky Wildcats alum Karl-Anthony Towns drove for a layup.

Minnesota defeated defending champion Denver, 106-80, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the West Conference semifinals. Murray left the dressing room before reporters could ask him about the incident.

In addition to Towns, Denver's Reggie Jackson also came close to stepping on the heat pack before Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spotted it and removed it.

“It’s inexcusable and dangerous,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said.

Finch didn't see Murray throw it and didn't blame referees for missing it.

“I’m sure it was just a mistake and an oversight” by officials, Finch said. "I’m sure there was nothing intentional by the officiating [missing it] at all. But certainly we can’t allow that to happen.”

Shortly after the heat pack was thrown, the public address announcer warned fans not to toss any objects onto the floor. But Finch, even if he didn't see Murray's throw, knew it couldn't have come from a fan.

“We tried to impress upon them [the officials] that there probably aren't many fans in the building that have a heat pack,” he said. “So it probably had to come from the bench, which they found logical."

Minnesota was pulling away to an early double-digit lead that the Timberwolves wouldn’t relinquish.

"I was the lead official, and I didn’t notice it was on the floor or where it came from until Towns scored," crew chief Marc Davis said.

Had referees seen Murray throw it, he could have been called for a technical foul.

"We weren’t aware it had come from the bench," Davis said. "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."

Asked after the game whether he feared Murray could face league discipline, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said he didn't even know how the heat pack ended up on the floor.

"I know a heating pack was on the floor, but it was not in my field of vision," he said.

Murray might still have been upset about a non-call earlier in the game when Towns appeared to lower his shoulder and bulldoze through him for a layup. No foul was called.

And while Murray's tantrum could be unprecedented in NBA annals, players’ and coaches’ losing their cool and tossing objects on to the field of play isn't new:

Although the NBA didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on any penalties Murray might incur, analysts say a suspension isn’t only possible — but it’s warranted.

“He should be suspended for a game," former NBA point guard Jay Williams said Tuesday on the ESPN morning show “Get Up.”

“That was an inch away from Karl-Anthony Towns planting his right foot right on that thing. That could have hurt him. He could have been out of the game,” Williams said. “I understand it’s not precedented, but I think that was such an immature move by Jamal Murray, and that could have been a really hurtful and nasty thing to happen.”

Williams wasn't alone in his viewpoint.

"I'll be shocked if he's not" suspended, fellow ESPN analyst Tim Legler chimed in. "I don't know how the league wouldn't suspend a player for throwing an object."