Jamal Murray Gets the Acclaim, but the Lakers Close In on the Series

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It used to be nearing middle of the night, and Jamal Murray concluded his postgame information convention through slowly emerging from his folding chair with the expression of anyone who had spent 12 hours on an meeting line. He had football-size ice packs on his knees. As he lumbered towards the door and a ready bus out of doors, he let loose a load groan.

Murray had finished the whole thing he conceivably may just for the Denver Nuggets of their 114-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night time, and you could have heard one thing like this sooner than. Right through the N.B.A.’s restart at Walt Disney Global, no participant has been extra dynamic or entertaining or aggressive than Murray, a 23-year-old level guard who has emerged as a celebrity.

His theatrics will not be sufficient towards the Lakers, who’ve a three-games-to-one lead within the N.B.A.’s Western Convention finals sooner than Recreation five on Saturday. All Murray did in Recreation four used to be acquire 32 issues and eight assists whilst capturing 12 of 20 from the sector. He used to be so just right, LeBron James defended him within the fourth quarter because the Lakers fought to keep their lead.

“I knew it used to be successful time, and Jamal had it going,” James mentioned. “The child is particular.”

The extent of problem for Murray’s photographs has a tendency to range from tricky to hazardous. He shoots from one foot. He shoots with the improper hand. He shoots falling down. He shoots whilst soaking up touch from massive human beings. He shoots with opposing elbows in his abdomen and fingers in his face. He shoots through throwing the ball off the backboard from absurd angles, and he shoots through launching Three-pointers from Epcot Heart. However he assists in keeping capturing, and he’s going to want to shoot some extra if the Nuggets have any probability within the collection.

“I did get fouled on a few,” he said. “We could see the replay clearly.”

In any case, and no matter what happens the rest of the way, no one will soon forget what Murray has done in the bubble. In 18 playoff games, he has averaged 26.9 points and 6.6 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field and 46.6 percent from 3-point range. He also owns one of the postseason’s most bizarre statistics. In Game 2, the Nuggets outscored the Lakers by 16 points in the 44 minutes when Murray was on the court. In the 4 minutes when he was on the bench, the Lakers outscored the Nuggets by 18 points — and won by 2.

Earlier this week, Nuggets Coach Michael Malone spoke of Murray’s rapid maturation. Malone recalled a conversation they shared not long after Denver bowed out of last season’s playoffs in the conference semifinals.

“Coach, you know what drives me crazy?” Malone recalled Murray asking him. “You say I’m inconsistent. What bothers me is that you’re right. I know I have to be more consistent.”

Murray made it his personal challenge, Malone said, to become a steadier player alongside Nikola Jokic, the team’s do-everything center. Murray also committed to improving as a defender.

“Last year, we knew what we were getting from Nikola,” Malone said. “But what kind of game would Jamal have? That’s no longer the case. We have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal, and a lot of young, talented players behind them.”

The Lakers, who are much older and more experienced, are winning this series with physical force, and Vogel seemed to broadcast how he wanted his players to attack Game 4 by sliding Dwight Howard into the starting lineup. Howard, a 34-year-old wrecking ball with limbs, had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half alone.

“Nobody touched him at all,” Malone said. “He did whatever he wanted.”

The Lakers do not play a particularly pleasing style of basketball. They run at the rim. They seek contact. But it is effective.

On Thursday, they shot 35 free throws and thoroughly outrebounded the Nuggets. Malone did not sound delighted with the officiating — he said he would work “the proper channels” to address his concerns with the league, in much the same way that Vogel had after Game 3 — but stressed that he was not using that as an excuse.

“This game had nothing to do with that,” he said before citing the Lakers’ work on the offensive glass. “It’s the 25 second-chance points. That was the reason we lost this game.”

As for Murray, Malone said his point guard was doing everything in his power to lift his team. After playing 44 minutes in Game 3, Murray played 45 minutes in Game 4.

“I’m running the poor kid into the ground,” Malone said. “When I take him out, things seem to go sideways in a hurry.”

Now, Murray is facing a fresh challenge, his most daunting one to date. Despite the ice packs and the groans and the enormous minutes he continues to supply, Murray said he was ready.

“Got a lot of gas left in the tank,” he said.


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