LeBron takes over late with key buckets in clutch, lifts Lakers to win over Grizzlies
For all the talk about the importance of Anthony Davis or the rise of role players such as Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, one thing remains true about the Lakers:
This is LeBron James’ team.
And while at age 38 he may not bring it quite the same way over the first 82, he can summon greatness in a playoff game or series when his team needs it. Like a driving layup high with less than a second to go in the game — taken off the glass to avoid the best shot blocker in the league — to tie things up and force overtime.
Or how about a driving and-1 dagger to seal the win?
LeBron finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds — the first Laker to have a 20-20 playoff game since Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 — and willed the Lakers to a 117-111 overtime win Monday night.
That win has the Lakers with a commanding 3-1 lead in a series headed back to Memphis for Game 5 on Wednesday.
“These are the moments that I love. I love the postseason,” LeBron James said.
Ja Morant gutted out a game through his injured hand but shot 8-of-24 with four turnovers. Dillon Brooks shot 4-of-11, and Jaren Jackson Jr. was 5-of-15.
However, what really undid the Grizzlies was the missed good looks on corner 3s — Memphis was 0-of-6 on corner 3s in the second half and 2-of-19 for the game. While some were contested, plenty — especially in the fourth quarter — were clean looks that simply did not go down. Overall, the Grizzlies shot 9-of-42 from 3 (21.4%).
The Lakers were not much better — 10-of-36 (27.8%) from 3 — but they got three critical 3-pointers from D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter that kept Los Angeles in touch with a Grizzlies team that was playing better for a stretch in the final frame. The Lakers also got 23 points from Austin Reaves and Jared Vanderbilt chipped in a surprising 15.
Desmond Bane was the hottest of the Grizzlies and finished with a game-high 36 points, while Morant had an inefficient 19 and JJJ had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
The Grizzlies may regret not taking advantage of an off Anthony Davis night — 4-of-13 shooting for 12 points — although he made some key plays in the overtime. The body language and mood of the Grizzlies after the game — Morant and Brooks chose not to speak to the media — was that of a team that knew they let one get away from them.
Or, more accurately, they watched as LeBron James took one away from them.
And now the Grizzlies are one more loss from an early playoff exit.
While LeBron James is one win away from advancing with a team he truly believes in.