Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is 35 years old and largely past the point of his career at which he guards the opponent’s best player for the entire game.
But he is still more than capable of doing so in crunch time of critical playoff games.
“LeBron asked for the assignment, and obviously I granted it,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said of James’ decision to guard Jamal Murray in crunch time of Los Angeles’ 114-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Thursday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
“Nothing was really working in terms of trying to slow him down until Bron took that assignment,” Vogel added.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
LeBron shuts down Jamal Murray 😳 https://t.co/XnnZpAUwGa
Murray torched the Lakers for much of the game, darting through defenders on his way to the lane and finishing in acrobatic fashion a number of times. He finished with 32 points, but James blocked him in the final minutes and prevented him from unleashing his floaters on the way to the basket.
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
LeBron on switching over to Murray: “I knew it was winning time and Jamal had it going. He’s special.”
This is not the first time LeBron has switched over onto a smaller guard late in postseason games. It’s one major advantage of having big, 2-way wings. https://t.co/HMHgcsrv2O
The stretch of defense was all the more important because Nikola Jokic was in foul trouble throughout the fourth quarter and did not provide his typical support. That left the majority of Denver’s offense in Murray’s hands, which wasn’t an issue until James asked to guard him.
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