LeBron requested guarding Murray late: 'I knew it was winning time'
Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

LeBron James' fourth-quarter defense on Jamal Murray played a huge role in the Los Angeles Lakers winning Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

James knew that containing Murray was crucial to the team's success, so he requested the defensive assignment.

"I knew it was winning time and Jamal had it going," James told reporters postgame. "The kid is special. He has an array of shots, the triple threat - from the three, from the midrange, and also in the paint. And for me it's just trusting my defensive keys, trusting my study of film, trusting personnel, and living with the results.

"Told my teammates that I had him and everyone else can kind of stay at bay and stay at home and I was able to get a couple of stops and rebound the basketball, which is the most important thing."

Murray finished with a team-high 32 points in the loss and was a handful for the Lakers all night. Los Angeles guard Rajon Rondo credits James' insistence on switching onto Murray as what allowed the team to take Game 4.

"I think it changed when LeBron went to Murray," Rondo told Spectrum SportsNet. "(A 6-foot-8) guy, defensive player on him, it was tough to make those shots he's made on all the small guards. LeBron took the challenge and set the tone and we're able to get some stops and get out and run."

James tallied 26 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists of his own in the win.

The Lakers can now book their first Finals appearance since 2010 with a victory Saturday in Game 5.

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LeBron requested guarding Murray late: 'I knew it was winning time'
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