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Nuggets coach Michael Malone attributed Jamal Murray’s left calf strain to a specific moment during Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers, but he also indicated Monday that Murray might have already been dealing with an injury.

“I think it was one movement that kind of worsened the calf,” Malone said before Game 5 of the first-round series at Ball Arena.

With about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Saturday night in Los Angeles, Murray appeared to reach for his calf after attempting a jump shot. He wasn’t removed from the game, however. After the 119-108 loss, Murray wasn’t available to media, and the team said he did not suffer an injury at the time.

On the flight home to Denver afterward, Murray approached Malone on the team plane to apologize for his poor shooting efficiency so far in the series.

“He hasn’t shot the ball well, for what we’ve come to expect from Jamal Murray in the playoffs. I think he’s putting a lot of it on him, not making shots,” Malone detailed. “I said, we all share in the wins, and we all share in the losses. I think it’s important for people to know how competitive he is, and he made that shot in Game 2 that’s gonna go down as one of the greatest shots in Denver Nuggets history. But he wants to do well for this team. He doesn’t want to let his teammates down. And he wears that. I really appreciate and respect that about Jamal.”

Entering Game 5 against the Lakers, Murray was shooting just 38% from the field and 20.8% from 3-point range in the series. But his fourth-quarter flurry in the second game, including six points in the final minute and a game-winning buzzer-beater, was the difference between a 2-2 deadlock and a 3-1 Nuggets lead in the series.

“He comes off pick-and-roll basically every possession. If not, then it’s a dribble hand-off, and (Nikola) Jokic is probably one of the best screeners in the league,” said Lakers guard Austin Reaves, who has guarded Murray. “Being able to get (Murray) open is kind of what they rely on, and that two-man game.”

Seeing as the defending NBA champion Nuggets have ambitions far beyond the first round, the question going forward is whether Murray’s growing list of leg injuries this season puts him at risk of a worse, long-term injury. Denver was 13-10 in the regular season when Murray didn’t play and 44-15 when he did play. There could be months of high-usage basketball remaining still in this postseason.

“It just comes down to being responsible,” Malone said when asked about the balance between needing Murray to win games and needing to avoid a compounding injury.

“Are we a better team with Jamal Murray? Of course we are. Does he give us a better chance to win? Of course he does. He’s one of the better playoff players that I’ve ever been around. But sometimes I have to be the adult in the room and take away — if need be — be the voice of reason and take a bigger-picture approach. And that’s really hard when you have these types of situations. … As I always tell you guys, it’s not if he can play. Anybody can go out there and play. But can Jamal Murray go out there and play effectively and help this team win? And if he’s able to do that and we’re not risking further injury, then hopefully he can go out there and give it a go. If not, we’ll rely on everybody else to step up and do their job.”

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