The Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series with a 117-111 win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, thanks to LeBron James’ tying layup with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation and four of his 22 points in overtime.
In his 270th playoff game, James collected a career-high 20 rebounds, plus seven assists, and two blocked shots while committing only one turnover, extending his own NBA record. He became the first Lakers player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 to record 20 points and 20 rebounds in a playoff game.
James is also the oldest player ever to have a 20-point, 20-rebound game, including regular season and playoffs, at 38 years and 115 days.
“He just took over down the stretch,” said Anthony Davis of James. “We’ve got a bucket to get to overtime… It was a great team effort by all of our men. This group is not going away.”
For the seventh-seeded Lakers, who have won two consecutive home games and are on the verge of their first playoff series win outside the Florida bubble since 2012, Austin Reaves scored 23 points and Davis had five of his 12 in overtime.
Los Angeles rallied from a seven-point deficit with five minutes remaining in regulation, with D’Angelo Russell hitting three consecutive 3-pointers, and the Lakers never trailed in overtime.
“I’m so proud of our guys, the way we fought,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “We found a way.”
In his playoff career, James has eight game-tying or game-winning field goals in the last 5 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, which is more than any other player in the past 25 postseasons. Kobe Bryant comes in second with four.
Desmond Bane scored 36 points and nailed a game-tying layup with 6.7 seconds remaining in regulation for the second-seeded Grizzlies, who must overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win a Game 7 for the first time in club history to advance.
With his injured right hand, Ja Morant scored 19 points, but Davis rejected his shot at the buzzer. The Grizzlies then missed six of their first eight attempts in overtime, as well as two crucial turnovers.
Dillon Brooks, who called James “old” after Game 2 and was removed from Game 3 for punching James in the groyne, scored 11 points for Memphis.
Over strong defensive pressure, James calmly made the basket that forced overtime, then he converted a key layup while being fouled to put the Lakers ahead by five with 29.1 seconds to go in overtime. Dennis Schroder and Kemba Walker each hit two free throws to give the Lakers their 12th victory in 15 games going back to the regular season.
The Lakers trailed for most of the second half, while Davis struggled with an apparent hip issue that necessitated a heating pad on the bench for much of Game 4. However, Davis blocked four shots, and the Lakers performed well anytime the big man was defending the rim.
Morant’s 45-point outburst in Game 3 wasn’t enough to pull the Grizzlies out of an early 29-point deficit in his return from a painful right hand. He subsequently responded in evident agony after jamming his hand into the ground again during the second half of Game 4, but he continued to play and even dunked on Rui Hachimura a millisecond before the third-quarter buzzer.
The Grizzlies trailed by an NBA-record-tying 26 points after a historically poor first quarter in Game 3, but they recovered considerably in Game 4. The Lakers maintained a 15-point advantage in the first half until Memphis came back with a strong push to conclude the half.