Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James, Lakers Put Grizzlies on Brink of Elimination With 117-111 Victory in Game 4

LeBron James put the Lakers on his back and put the Memphis Grizzlies on the brink of elimination, as the Los Angles Lakers won Game 4 on Monday 117-111 in overtime.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James put the Lakers on his back and made sure they would not relinquish home-court advantage.

There was once a time not too long ago when it was possible the four-time MVP would not even be able to play in the NBA Playoffs. Now he's turning back the clock and looking like vintage LeBron.

James scored a game-tying layup with less than a second remaining in regulation and then led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 117-111 overtime victory in Game 4 to put the Memphis Grizzlies on the brink of elimination.

"That's always been me. Whatever it takes for the team to be successful," said James. "That was the mindset tonight and I was able to make a couple plays to help us be successful."

James did it all on Monday, finishing with 22 points, 20 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks, but more importantly, he gave the seven-seed Lakers a 3-1 lead over the two-seed Grizzlies.

The 20 rebounds by James were a career-high across 1,693 games. He became the first Lakers player to have at least 20 points and at least 20 rebounds in a playoff game since Shaquille O'Neal did it in 2004.

"When my teammates told me I had 20 and 20 I had no idea," said James of the stat. "That's the first time I've done it in my career. I've done some pretty cool things in my career, but I've never had 20 and 20 before. So that was pretty cool, I guess."

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With the Lakers trailing 104-102 with 6.7 seconds remaining in the game, James drove to the basket and kissed a shot off glass over NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award winner Jaren Jackson Jr. to tie the game at 104-104 and send the game to overtime.

"I work on different layup packages…we work on those depending on the shot-blocker," said James of the game-tying shot. "I've had moments where I've been able to scoop those high layups. It's not the first time I've done it."

But LeBron wasn't finished. With less than 30 seconds remaining in overtime, and the Lakers clinging to a 111-108 lead, James took Dillon Brooks one-on-one, drove to the basket and finished off an and-one with another shot off the glass that sealed the victory for Los Angeles.

"You know how momentum plays are made. You can get a dagger play or a kill shot, and I thought after that and-one right there it sealed it. There wasn't much light at the end," James said.

The Lakers held onto their home-court advantage with an elimination game set for FedEx Forum in Memphis on Wednesday in game 5.

James put an exclamation mark on the game, but it began with him deferring to his teammates. Jared Vanderbilt scored 10 of the Lakers first 12 points and finished with 15, the most he's had all series.

"We needed Vando's [Vanderbilt] energy early," said Lakers' head coach Darvin Ham. "He knocked a couple over corner threes. We just got contributions from all over the place."

For the Grizzlies, their 23 first quarter points were certainly more than the nine points they scored in the first frame of Game 3. However, despite the better offensive performance, they still trailed by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter.

With the Lakers looking to cruise into halftime, Austin Reaves had to head to the bench in foul trouble. That's when the Grizzlies closed the quarter on a 14-1 run to cut the LA lead to 54-52 at the break.

"When I got the fourth foul I was confused on why I was coming out, but then I realized I had four fouls," said Reaves. "I just try and stay in the moment in the game…It's the nature of all sports, you get in foul trouble and stuff happens and that's why you've got teammates to step up in your place."

Memphis carried over that momentum into the third quarter, leading by as many as seven points as they took an 83-81 lead into the fourth quarter. Desmond Bane had his fingerprints all over that quarter and led the Grizzlies with a game-high 36 points in defeat. Morant, still struggling with his injured hand, had 19 points.

"Obviously, we would have liked to get that one, but I'm feeling good. We get a chance to go back home where we had the best record at home this season," said Bane. "We go protect home floor. We have two opportunities there. In order to win a series you have to win a game on the road so when we come back here for Game 6 we'll come back here with the right edge the right mentality and steal one and then see what happens in game 7."

Make no mistake about it, the night belonged to James. The 38-year-old, playing in his 20th season, provided fans with another all-time playoff performance in his third consecutive decade.

James did it all for the Lakers: he scored, he rebounded, he blocked shots, and he took charges. Arguably, one of the most important possessions of the game for the Lakers came late in the fourth quarter when James took a charge from a driving Morant coming at him at full speed. At the time, the game was tied. By taking the charge, LeBron turned a potential Lakers deficit into a lead on the next possession.

"I'm just trying to do whatever it takes for our team to be successful," said James of the charge he took on Morant. "Ja is so explosive that once he gets off that runway and takes off, you're not going to be able to meet him up top, so I tried to ground him early and I was able to step in and take a charge right there that was able to give us an extra possession."

Heading back to Memphis, the Grizzlies will look at Game 4 as a major missed opportunity. The Grizzlies led for over 90 percent of the second half and down the stretch. Their seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter could have grown even larger if not for Lakers' point guard D'Angelo Russell making three consecutive three-pointers over a one-minute span.

"We were flailing at best offensively and he was able to catch fire," Ham said of Russell's consecutive threes. "He put us on his back and offensively and put back in position to have a chance to close the gap, eclipse it, and walk away with the win. If D-Lo doesn't play the way he played, we don't win the game."

Both teams played excellent defense and the physical play was noticeable with 43 combined personal fouls.

Russell fouled out, but finished with 17 crucial points. Reaves, playing with foul trouble all game, had 23 points. Anthony Davis had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks.

"I'm all about getting wins no matter how I do it," said Davis. "Things are not always going to be perfect. Sometimes you have to win ugly. Sometimes you don't play well, but still try and leave your imprint on the game and that's what I tried to do tonight."

The Lakers will seek to become just the sixth No. 7 seed in NBA history to advance past the first round. Since the playoff field expanded from 12 to 16 teams in 1984, the team leading a series 3-to-1 goes on to win 92 percent of the time.

"The closeout game is always the hardest in the series," said James looking ahead to Game 5. "It's the most tiring one, it's the most brutal one, and we better be ready for it. I think we'll be ready for it."

Game 5 of the best of seven series will tipoff on Wednesday night at 4:30PM PT in Memphis.

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