LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It was nearing midnight, and Jamal Murray concluded his postgame information convention by slowly rising from his folding chair with the expression of somebody who had spent 12 hours on an meeting line. He had football-sized ice packs on his knees. As he lumbered towards the door and a ready bus outdoors, he let loose a load groan.Murray had achieved every part he conceivably may for the Denver Nuggets of their 114-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday evening, and you will have heard one thing like this earlier than. Throughout the N.B.A.’s restart at Walt Disney World, no participant has been extra dynamic or entertaining or aggressive than Murray, a 23-year-old level guard who has emerged as a star.His theatrics is probably not sufficient towards the Lakers, who’ve a three-games-to-one lead within the N.B.A.’s Western Conference finals earlier than Game 5 on Saturday. All Murray did in Game Four was acquire 32 factors and eight assists whereas taking pictures 12 of 20 from the sphere. He was so good, LeBron James defended him within the fourth quarter because the Lakers fought to protect their lead.“I knew it was winning time, and Jamal had it going,” James stated. “The kid is special.”The degree of issue for Murray’s pictures tends to vary from difficult to hazardous. He shoots from one foot. He shoots with the fallacious hand. He shoots falling down. He shoots whereas absorbing contact from giant human beings. He shoots with opposing elbows in his abdomen and palms in his face. He shoots by throwing the ball off the backboard from absurd angles, and he shoots by launching 3-pointers from Epcot Center. But he retains taking pictures, and he might want to shoot some extra if the Nuggets have any likelihood within the collection.Then once more, the Nuggets are comeback kings. Already within the postseason, they’ve bounced again from a pair of three-games-to-one collection deficits — towards the Utah Jazz in first spherical, then towards the Los Angeles Clippers within the convention semifinals. The Nuggets are aware of bleak circumstances. The solely distinction now’s that they’ve to tug off a few of their magic towards James and Anthony Davis, who led the Lakers on Thursday with 34 factors.In addition to ending with 26 factors, 9 rebounds and eight assists, James took on the (all of the sudden) heavy burden of defending Murray within the recreation’s late phases. James went to Frank Vogel, his coach, to request the task, and what was Vogel going to say? No?“Obviously, I granted it,” Vogel stated. “He did a great job down the stretch trying to contain him one-on-one.”Murray indicated that he didn’t get a lot assist from the officiating crew on a few of his late drives, and that will in all probability be a good evaluation.“I did get fouled on a few,” he stated. “We could see the replay clearly.”ImageLeBron James requested to defend Jamal Murray late within the recreation.Credit…Mark J. Terrill/Associated PressIn any case, and it doesn’t matter what occurs the remainder of the way in which, nobody will quickly overlook what Murray has achieved within the bubble. In 18 playoff video games, he has averaged 26.9 factors and 6.6 assists whereas taking pictures 51 p.c from the sphere and 46.6 p.c from 3-point vary. He additionally owns one of many postseason’s most weird statistics. In Game 2, the Nuggets outscored the Lakers by 16 factors within the 44 minutes when Murray was on the court docket. In the Four minutes when he was on the bench, the Lakers outscored the Nuggets by 18 factors — and received by 2.Earlier this week, Nuggets Coach Michael Malone spoke of Murray’s speedy maturation. Malone recalled a dialog they shared not lengthy after Denver bowed out of final season’s playoffs within the convention 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 private problem, Malone stated, to turn out to be a steadier participant alongside Nikola Jokic, the crew’s do-everything middle. Murray additionally dedicated to enhancing as a defender.“Last year, we knew what we were getting from Nikola,” Malone stated. “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’re a lot older and extra skilled, are successful this collection with bodily pressure, and Vogel appeared to broadcast how he wished his gamers to assault Game Four by sliding Dwight Howard into the beginning lineup. Howard, a 34-year-old wrecking ball with limbs, had 11 factors and 10 rebounds within the first half alone.“Nobody touched him at all,” Malone stated. “He did whatever he wanted.”The Lakers don’t play a very pleasing fashion of basketball. They run on the rim. They search contact. But it’s efficient.On Thursday, they shot 35 free throws and completely outrebounded the Nuggets. Malone didn’t sound delighted with the officiating — he stated he would work “the proper channels” to deal with his issues with the league, in a lot the identical means that Vogel had after Game 3 — however careworn that he was not utilizing that as an excuse.“This game had nothing to do with that,” he stated earlier than 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 stated his level guard was doing every part in his energy to carry his crew. After taking part in 44 minutes in Game 3, Murray performed 45 minutes in Game 4.“I’m running the poor kid into the ground,” Malone stated. “When I take him out, things seem to go sideways in a hurry.”Now, Murray is going through a contemporary problem, his most daunting one to this point. Despite the ice packs and the groans and the big minutes he continues to provide, Murray stated he was prepared.“Got a lot of gas left in the tank,” he stated.