In a game the road team desperately needed to win, the Lakers found a way to protect home-court, winning in overtime thanks to LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ gutsy performances.
Despite the Grizzlies expectantly coming out strong out of the gates, it was the Lakers’ role players who helped weather the early storm.
Jarred Vanderbilt, a player mostly known for his defense, finally made some noise with his offense. He scored ten points in the first 12 minutes and ended the night with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Austin Reaves once again came up huge with his ability to check multiple boxes. Whether it was making the right pass, hitting key buckets or playing feisty defense, Reaves was in the middle of everything. He finished the night with 23 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
With his scoring subdued early, James shifted his focus on the defensive end where he had multiple blocks that energized the crowd and his team.
Despite not scoring at his usual clip, James did enough everywhere else to impact the game. His 20 rebounds and multiple drawn charges were paramount in this one.
With a comfortable double-digit lead midway through the second quarter, the team once again experienced the ongoing scare that comes with Anthony Davis falling to the floor.
He hurt his hip after a drive to the rim and had to take a play-off before returning. Desmond Bane then elbowed him in the groin which led to a frustrated Davis earning a tech after voicing his displeasure to a referee.
The bumps and bruises obviously played a role in one of the quietest Davis games you’re gonna see. His final tally was 12 points on just 30 percent shooting. He did have timely contributions down the stretch, but his play in the first four quarters will likely be a topic of conversation.
From a team standpoint, the Lakers once again had a sloppy end to a half as a 14-1 run from the Grizzlies shrunk the lead to just two heading into the third quarter.
Things didn’t improve for the Lakers after the break as the team continued to struggle putting together any momentum.
Both teams traded punches in the second half, but it was the Grizzlies who held a slight lead down the stretch. With the game starting to drift away from the Lakers, D’Angelo Russell finally made his impact felt with three makes from behind the arc to keep L.A. close.
Unfortunately, Russell fouled out with under two minutes left and after a Desmond Bane make in transition, the Grizzlies clung to a two-point lead with just 6.1 seconds left.
With the game and potentially series on the line, James drove to the basket and finished over the outstretched arm of Jaren Jackson Jr to tie the game. The next clutch play came at the literal hands of Davis, whose monster block on Ja Morant’s potential game-winner forced overtime.
The extra period was once again all James and Davis, as they generated just enough offense to support the Lakers’ stifling defense to finish off the Grizzlies at last.
The playoffs are about ugly wins and Game 4 was a perfect example. Davis struggled, the Lakers’ perimeter shots didn't fall and nothing came easy. In the end, however, the team did just enough to find a way to win.
While now with a commanding lead, the series is still far from over as the teams now head back to Memphis for Game 5. If the Lakers hope to finish things on Wednesday, they will need to play and execute much better than they did on Monday.
They’re on the cusp of advancing, but the job isn't finished quite yet.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.