The Lakers and Grizzlies have provided plenty of drama in their first round series, both on and off the court, and that continued in Game 4 with an absolutely thrilling closing stretch that made up for some sloppiness across the first 47 minutes of action.
Neither team had their best on offense on the night, but both squads stars showed up when they needed them to in the closing minute. First, it was the Grizzlies who saw Jaren Jackson Jr. prove why he was this year’s DPOY, blocking Rui Hachimura at the rim to spark a runout for Ja Morant, who slipped a behind the back pass to Desmond Bane for the go ahead bucket with just under seven seconds to play.
Then it was LeBron James, who had been fairly quiet offensively, finding his extra gear to drive by Xavier Tillman for the game-tying layup with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
LEBRON JAMES TIES IT IN THE FINAL MOMENTS.
MEM/LAL HEADING TO OVERTIME ON TNT 🗣 pic.twitter.com/mSagnUs8NM
— NBA (@NBA) April 25, 2023
On the Grizzlies’ final play, Anthony Davis blocked Morant, making up for an otherwise dismal night for the Lakers’ star big man — with LeBron hitting a heave from beyond halfcourt after the buzzer to add to the buzz in the arena.
In overtime, the Lakers took an early lead but could never pull all the way away from the Grizzlies until the final minute of the extra period, when somewhat poetically LeBron drew Dillon Brooks and proceeded to drive straight through him for an and-1 dagger with just under 30 seconds to play.
LEBRON JAMES IS IN #PLAYOFFMODE
CLUTCH AND-1 AS GAME 4 COMES TO A CLOSE ON TNT. pic.twitter.com/mRmbgssUzQ
— NBA (@NBA) April 25, 2023
Given the talk of the weekend was Brooks’ commentary on James being old after Memphis’ Game 2 win and then getting ejected for hitting James below the belt in Game 3, James certainly seemed to enjoy that in the biggest moment of the series thus far he was able to sink the dagger in by muscling through Brooks — who spent most of the game on a different defensive assignment in Game 4. James has not been willing to engage the Brooks thing off the court when asked about it, brushing it off as just noise, but he has unquestionably taken his chances to twist the knife on Brooks and Monday night brought the best possible chance to do so and he did not miss it. LeBron finished the night with an outrageous 22 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists, saving much of his scoring damage for late. It was the first 20-20 game for the Lakers since Shaq, and James’ first 20-rebound playoff performance of his illustrious career.
Now, Memphis has to win three straight against the Lakers to get out of the first round, while L.A. maintains homecourt and ensures they’ll at least have one chance to close out the Grizzlies in L.A. if they can’t swipe another one on the road.