LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Jamal Murray is just not right here to your participation trophy, your reward, or your conspiracy theories in regards to the refs. He has no real interest in being the villain within the newest season of The LeBron James Present. Murray performed Sport Four of the Western Convention Finals like he expects to win a championship. His Nuggets misplaced, which may solely imply one factor: Murray will play Sport 5 like he expects to win a championship.
The Lakers beat the Nuggets, 114-108, to take a 3-1 collection lead, and that is after we attain into our bottomless bag of cliches to say the Lakers “seized management.” Nicely, inform that to Murray. The breakout star of those playoffs scored 32 factors, together with two buckets that may make anyone’s mixtape: An up-and-down-and-up-and-around layup, and a spin-then-hop-to-the-left-and-fire-with-the-left-hand leaner. Murray cedes nothing.
Murray walked into his postgame press convention with ice on his knees, a paper cup in hand, and little or no curiosity in niceties. He not often seemed up. Requested how irritating it was to by no means fairly take the lead within the fourth quarter, he mentioned, “Irritating,” then barely elaborated. Requested how large of a distinction the Lakers’ offensive rebounding made, he mentioned, “It was the distinction.” When it was over, he trudged slowly out of the health club and let loose an “ugh!” of frustration. He clearly anticipated this collection to be tied proper now.
The Nuggets got here again from 3-1 collection deficits in opposition to the Jazz and Clippers. That may be a large ask now. A James staff has by no means blown a 3-1 lead. However it might be gorgeous if the Nuggets roll over in Sport 5. Murray gained’t permit it. He’s averaging 26.5 factors and making 54.eight p.c of his photographs on this collection. The Lakers can’t stick with him. Within the final three video games, Murray sat for a complete of 11 minutes.
“I’m operating the poor child into the bottom, however once I take him out, issues appear to go sideways in a rush,” Denver coach Michael Malone mentioned. “And he’s getting the most effective of all people.”
The Nuggets left Sport Four realizing they performed poorly for lengthy stretches, battled unfriendly whistles, and nonetheless virtually gained. The Lakers have two elementary benefits over the Nuggets.
One is that, as good as Murray has been, and as nice as Nikola Jokic is, there may be nonetheless no mixture within the NBA fairly like James and Anthony Davis.
The opposite benefit is measurement. The Lakers have a ton of it, which provides Lakers coach Frank Vogel so many choices. Vogel inserted Howard within the beginning lineup rather than Javale McGee, and Howard made L.A. an offensive-rebounding machine.
Requested how a lot the offensive rebounding contributed to his staff’s loss, Malone mentioned, “Virtually all of it. It was an enormous quantity (12) and it was like that the entire evening. Dwight Howard had six. No one touched him in any respect within the first quarter.”
Murray mentioned: “We’re simply making an attempt to be bodily and never decide up fouls. Dwight Howard is completely making an attempt to muscle his manner in, and never care if he will get referred to as for a foul as a result of they’ve what number of bigs over there?”
And talking of fouls: Between Video games Three and 4, the Lakers referred to as the NBA to complain that James was getting hacked. The precise phrases, one presumes: “We’re the Lakers and he’s LeBron James. Deal with us accordingly.” The Nuggets had already grumbled a bit in regards to the officiating, which proves they actually do perceive the playoffs. The Lakers’ name didn’t sit effectively with them, particularly after Murray was bumped a couple of instances in Sport 5 and no foul was referred to as.
“I believe I will must undergo the correct channels like they did to see if we will determine how we will get some extra free throws,” Malone mentioned.
Did the Lakers’ complaining work?
“I do not know,” Malone mentioned. “I believe late within the sport Jamal Murray attacked the basket a couple of instances the place it gave the impression to be contact. We’ll watch the movie and ship our clips in. … Whether or not them going by means of the correct channels affected tonight or not, I don’t know. The NBA does a terrific job of listening. You hope that subsequent sport possibly a few of these fouls are referred to as.”
Malone efficiently made his level with out whining an excessive amount of. He can’t have his gamers assume they’re simply getting hosed by the officers. They should match the Lakers’ physicality. Jokic mentioned, “The rebounding was the issue. We sort of performed good protection and on the finish we didn’t rebound … An excessive amount of fouls. They have been on the road an excessive amount of instances.”
Jokic bemoaned “low cost fouls,” however he appeared to imply dumb fouls: “We is usually a little bit smarter with not giving them simple factors on the road.” They’ll, and judging from how they’ve responded all through the postseason, they may. Perhaps another comeback from a 3-1 deficit is just too arduous, even for this staff. However Murray and the Nuggets believed they may do it in opposition to Utah and did. They believed they may do it in opposition to the Clippers and did. They’re not going to surrender now.