The assignment at times has called for Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to try to slow down what has become one of the most lethal weapons in the NBA playoffs in Denver’s hot-shooting guard Jamal Murray.
In addition to dealing with Murray, Caldwell-Pope has had to find a way to be effective on offense in the Western Conference finals.
Quietly, Caldwell-Pope has been steady on offense throughout the first four games of the best-of-seven series at AdventHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near here.
His 13 points were necessary for the Lakers to pull out a 114-108 win over the Nuggets that gave Los Angeles a 3-1 lead, leaving it one win away from the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Caldwell-Pope didn’t have a great shooting night on Thursday, going five for 12 from the field and just three for nine from three-point range.
But he played with energy and gave the right effort for the Lakers to pull out the win, and he took the challenge of trying to defend Murray when it was his turn.
“It gets challenging sometimes,” Caldwell-Pope said during a videoconference after the game. “I use a lot of energy on the defensive end and then try to run the floor in transition and try to spot-up and knock down a three. I get tired sometimes, but I try to push myself through it knowing that me being out there, even if I’m not taking shots, I can be a decoy and spread the court for my teammates and let LeBron [James], AD [Anthony Davis] just be in attack mode. That’s how I find my breather right there.”
Caldwell-Pope got his turn at Murray, as did Danny Green, Alex Caruso and James.
All of them gave up some of Murray’s 32 points, but they did just enough to stop the guard from willing the Nuggets to a victory.
“We’ve just got to be engaged with our energy,” Caldwell-Pope said. “When we come out of the locker room, we always know what we got to do. I know we’re going to make mistakes throughout the game, but we got to have a group effort and try to limit our mistakes and just try to take Jamal Murray out … and make somebody else score the ball.”
With the Lakers trying to hold off the Nuggets late, Caldwell-Pope played a part in helping seal the game.
After James missed a shot, Caldwell-Pope collected the long rebound.
That led to James getting fouled and making two free throws for a 111-104 Lakers lead with 59 seconds remaining in Game 4.