LeBron James and the Lakers didn’t make it easy, but they survived a wild and ugly Game 4 game Monday night in Los Angeles against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Lakers advanced in overtime to defeat the Grizzlies, 117-111, in the opening round of the playoffs. That gave Los Angeles a 3-1 series lead, and pushed the Grizzlies to the brink of elimination heading into Game 5 on Wednesday in Memphis (7:30 p.m., TNT). The Lakers haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs since entering their title inside the COVID-19 bubble in 2020.
After the Lakers opened the extra period 5-2, they took a three-point lead after Anthony Davis squandered a missed bucket at the rim. Then, after a stop at the other end, James attacked the edge and threw the ball through a Dillon Brooks error to put the Lakers ahead by five with 28 seconds left in the game.
Stopped at the other end, the Lakers won by six points.
James led Los Angeles with 22 points, 20 rebounds and 7 assists. He is the first Lakers player to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a playoff game since Shaquille O’Neal did in 2004.
“He understands the timing of everything,” Lakers coach Darvin Hamm said of James. Via NBA reporter Marc Medina. “Knowing what happened yesterday and what’s unknown tomorrow makes him more grounded in the present and in the present moment. All his travels, all the tremendous things he’s accomplished, he still has that passion and that determination of wanting to be at the top and I want to put his team in the right position.” To be successful. That’s what I’ve seen… That’s just the way he’s been throughout his career.”
While the overtime finish was impressive, it was the wild sequence of regulation finishes that got them there in the first place.
The Lakers force overtime after the last ten seconds
The Grizzlies looked like they had a late win at the Crypto.com Arena.
Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. came up with a large blocker on Rui Hachimura, which quickly broke and sent Ja Morant running the other way. Then Morant threw it to Desmond Bane, who put it up to put Memphis up on a double with 6.1 seconds left.
Although, that was when James took over. James, after catching the inside pass, drove straight to the edge and responded with a shot of his own over Jackson to tie the game.
This set was James’ first in six attempts in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies got one last shot at a winner on the other end, but Davis denied Morant’s final shot.
The Lakers should have had an easy win after showing them off in the first half. Leading by 14 points early in the second quarter, the Grizzlies looked completely out of sync. However, Memphis collected it just before halftime, and finished the period with a 14-1 lead capped off by Bane’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer. This cut the Lakers’ lead to two points.
The Grizzlies held it through the third quarter as well, and Morant ended the period by hitting the buzzer to give them another two run.
The Lakers offense was struggling. Davis had only 2 points in the first half after shooting 0-for-5 from the field, and Jared Vanderbilt was their leading scorer for much of the third quarter.
But D’Angelo Russell sprinted into the fourth, holed three consecutive three-pointers to keep the Lakers at it and tied things up late on. This led to the absurd final sequence and the extra period.
Payne led the Grizzlies with 36 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 13-of-29 from the field. Morant added 19 points and 7 assists, and Jackson finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Austin Reeves led the Lakers in scoring with 23 points after shooting 7 of 16 from the field. Russell finished with 17 points and Vanderbilt lost 15. Davis closed out the day with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have a lot of guys for the postseason, and I understand that,” James said on TNT. “It’s my job to make sure they stay equal and understand that one game isn’t going to define the whole series, but we’ve got to be better, I want everyone to feel comfortable when we’re out on the floor and just playing for free. Let me worry about Xs and OS and tech stuff and all the other stuff. I can do that. “
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