LOS ANGELES — Now it’s about playoff survival for the Memphis Grizzlies. Win three games in a row – starting with a FedExForum home-court advantage on Wednesday night – and they dam up what has been an overwhelming surge to a 3-1 series lead by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure, the Grizzlies felt they should have won Game 4 in L.A. on Monday night, but they didn’t. They lost 117-111 in overtime and now are on the survivor’s end of a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Western Conference best-of-seven, opening-round series.
“We have to go back to the crib and regroup,” said Memphis power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. “We played better than we did in Game 3. We have to hone in on some things we should have cleaned up in (regulation) instead of going to overtime.”
Better than Game 3 when they only scored nine points in the first quarter and fell behind by 26? Most definitely! The Grizzles scored the first six points of Game 4 while matching the Lakers’ expected energy. Yet they still trailed (29-23) at the quarter’s end.
Shooting guard Desmond Bane, two-time All-Star point guard Ja Morant and Jackson, a first-year All-Star, mounted a 14-1 run to end the second quarter to pull the Grizzlies within a basket (54-52). The Grizzlies grabbed their first lead (68-66) of the second half (68-66) with 7:05 left in the third and heading to a fourth quarter that would be close throughout.
Bane, who led the Grizzlies with 36 points, gave Memphis a 7-point lead (97-90) with 5:13 left in the game. But the Grizzlies could not hold back the Lakers and with 10.2 seconds to go, the score was score tied at 102.
With Memphis in possession of the ball, Morant found Bane for a trailing layup with 6.7 seconds left to play defense.
The Lakers called timeout and advanced the basketball. A play was designed for, of course, LeBron James.
“It comes down to game plan discipline,” said Bane. “LeBron has always been a strong right-side driver since coming into the league. He gets to his right side. We have two guys that are supposed to be there to help. We did not execute.”
The Lakers controlled the overtime and now they control the series.
Morant and Dillon Brooks choose not to talk to media after the game.
Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins spoke sparingly: “It was a competitive game. We did not come up with some offensive rebounds on some crucial possessions late. LeBron gets to his right hand late in the game, which can’t happen.”
But it did!
(Tipoff on Wednesday is set for 6:30 p.m. at FedExForum. The game can be seen on TNT and Bally Sports Southeast.)