Nuggets Throw Shade at Lakers Star LeBron James After Game 4

Getty Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Denver Nuggets are down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, but in no way is that Jamal Murray’s fault.

The 23-year-old guard has rose to the occasion in the playoffs and has looked like the best player on the court at times during the series. He played 45 minutes, scored 32 points and doled out eight assists in a 114-108 loss on Thursday. He also pulled off a gravity-defying layup that lit up social media.

With the Nuggets within striking distance in crunch-time, Murray drew the defense of Lakers star LeBron James — who is five inches taller and 12 years older than Murray. James has five All-Defensive First Team selections on his resume and has proven to be a lockdown defender late in games this postseason when he needs to be. Murray was the assignment he requested in “winning time.”

“I knew it was winning time and Jamal had it going,” James told reporters postgame. “The kid is special. He has an array of shots, the triple threat — from the three, from the midrange, and also in the paint. And for me it’s just trusting my defensive keys, trusting my study of film, trusting personnel, and living with the results.

“Told my teammates that I had him and everyone else can kind of stay at bay and stay at home and I was able to get a couple of stops and rebound the basketball, which is the most important thing.”

Nuggets Will Reach Out to NBA Over Officiating

Murray said his game plan didn’t change with James in front of him. In fact, he treated The King just as he would any other player wearing purple and gold.

“When I see LeBron, I do the same stuff I do when I see [Alex] Caruso, and same stuff when I see [Rajon] Rondo and KCP (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and Kawhi [Leonard] and PG (Paul George) and Pat [Beverley] and Royce [O’Neale],” Murray said. “I do the same thing. So I appreciate the respect, but we just got to win the game.”

He might want to change that strategy if he’s in a similar situation going forward. Murray was 0-for-2 down the stretch and managed just four points in the final five minutes — all of those coming on free throws. The Nuggets contend that Murray might have been fouled on a few occasions.

“They went to the foul line 35 times,” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said after the loss. “I think I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did to see if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws.

“I think late in the game Jamal Murray attacked the basket a few times where it appeared to be contact. We’ll watch the film and send our clips in. We’ll reach out to the NBA and kind of make our points noted. Whether them going through the proper channels affected tonight or not, I have no idea. The NBA does a great job of listening. You hope that next game maybe some of those fouls are called.”

LeBron James ‘Loves’ Challenge of Stepping Up Defensively

LAKERS at NUGGETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | September 24, 2020LAKERS at NUGGETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | September 24, 2020 The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets, 114-108, to take a 3-1 series lead. Anthony Davis (34 PTS, 5 REB) and LeBron James (26 PTS, 9 REB, 8 AST) combined for 60 PTS for the Lakers, while Jamal Murray tallied 32 PTS and…2020-09-25T03:38:52Z

James stepping up on the opposing team’s best player is nothing new. He’s done so at time in the postseason on Rockets guard James Harden and even Damian Lillard in the first round.

“I think he just loves challenges, honestly, especially late game,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said. “Just like I am with guarding the best big, he wants to guard the best perimeter player and take on the challenge. He did it the last series with James Harden. He wants to take on those challenges and make them score over him. He’s a great defensive player. We trust him guarding those guys and making them finish over LeBron James. He did a hell of a job on Jamal Murray.”

The Lakers have a chance to close out the series on Saturday in Game 5.

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