If Jamal Murray was going to add yet another comeback victory to the Denver Nuggets’ dream postseason run, he was going to have to go through LeBron James.
With the Los Angeles Lakers clinging to a four-point lead with just more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter on Thursday, James — whose eldest son, 15-year-old LeBron James Jr., is closer in age to the 23-year-old Murray than he is — switched onto the Nuggets’ supernova.
“LeBron asked for the assignment, and obviously I granted it,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of the 35-year-old James after the Lakers’ 114-108 win drew them to within one victory of the NBA Finals, as L.A. now leads the Western Conference finals 3-1.
Murray, who had 28 points on 12-for-17 shooting to that point, had helped carve a Lakers 12-point lead down to a two-possession game, eyeing the chance to steal Game 4 and even up the series.
James had other ideas. He was the only Laker to guard Murray in clutch time — defined as the last five minutes of a game when the point differential is five or fewer — and held him to 0-for-2 shooting.
Murray had four points in the final five minutes, but those came at the free throw line.
LeBron shuts down Jamal Murray 😳 pic.twitter.com/XnnZpAUwGa
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 25, 2020
“I knew it was winning time, and Jamal had it going,” James said of his decision to guard him.
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