LeBron James requested defensive assignment on Jamal Murray in 4th quarter of Game 4

LeBron James
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 24: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets shoots the ball against LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 24, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

LeBron James and the Lakers now have a 3-1 lead yet again, achieving that lead for the third time in a row in these playoffs. In the two series against the Trail Blazers and the Rockets, the Lakers left nothing to chance and closed out each team in Game 5 in a couple of “gentleman’s sweeps”. The Lakers would be very smart to do that again against these Nuggets, as they have done nearly the opposite, coming back from being down 3-1 in two straight series against the Jazz and Clippers (lol). A large reason for these comebacks and the Nuggets’ resiliency in general is there budding superstar Jamal Murray. He had 32 points and eight assists last night, including one of the most impressive reverse layups that you’ll ever see. The layup was very Michael Jordan-esque, as the 23-year-old continues to prove his doubters wrong on the biggest stage.

Murray kept the Nuggets in the game the entire night, as LeBron James realized that Murray may be able to steal a win for the Nuggets in a game that the Lakers led for nearly the entirety. LeBron’s shots weren’t really falling, so he decided to stop Murray with his defense. Head coach Frank Vogel even says LeBron requested the defensive assignment, with Vogel immediately obliging (all quotes reported by Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll):

LeBron James spoke himself about requesting the assignment, saying the following:

“I knew it was winning and Jamal has it going. He’s special… For me it’s just trusting my defensive keys, trusting my study of film, trusting personnel and living with the results.”

LeBron’s running mate, Anthony Davis (who has been astounding in this series and these playoffs), praised The King for his stout defense on Murray.

Jacob Rude of Lonzo Wire highlights below the defensive statistics from LeBron guarding Murray. It seems like it worked out!

Below you’ll see highlights of possessions where LeBron was guarding Murray. In addition, below is the huddle that happened right before LeBron started guarding him. You can see Frank Vogel ask LeBron something early on, with him emphatically nodding “yes” to it.

This isn’t the first time that LeBron James has taken on the challenge of guarding the opponent’s best player in closing moments. He did so already in the bubble during the seeding games, putting the clamps on Kawhi Leonard in the final play of the Lakers’ first seeding game against the Clippers. Kawhi had to pass to Paul George for the final shot, with LeBron switching onto him too causing a miss at the buzzer. LeBron may have to do the same in Game 5 and in a possible NBA Finals against the likes of either Jimmy Butler or Jayson Tatum.

Shout out to The King.

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