But the Lakers came away with a 117-111 victory, and afterward, LeBron James made it clear that he wants his teammates to simply play and not think too much.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 25, 2023
James was the thread that kept the Lakers together throughout, even as they trailed for much of the second half. He scored 22 points, including a difficult layup near the end of the fourth quarter that forced overtime, as well as a key basket late in overtime that gave Los Angeles some insurance.
He also managed to collect 20 rebounds for the first time in his career while also contributing seven assists, two blocked shots and a key charging foul on Ja Morant in crunch time.
Austin Reaves also stepped up with 23 points, and although Anthony Davis struggled all night offensively, he added 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals.
In his postgame presser with Chris Haynes, James gave a shout-out to D’Angelo Russell, who gave the team an important boost at a key juncture. Russell, who has been struggling to hit his shot for most of this series, connected on three 3-pointers after it fell behind by seven midway through the fourth quarter.
The book on the Lakers seems to have been to keep them out of transition, force them to play a half-court game, swarm Anthony Davis and make them grind it out. The fact that they won proves they can win an important game even when forced out of their preferred “Showtime” style of basketball.
Now, they can wrap up the series on Wednesday in Game 5, which will take place in Memphis, which would give them an opportunity to rest while they wait to see if they play the Sacramento Kings or Golden State Warriors in the next round.