On April 24, 2023, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Memphis Grizzlies in a pivotal Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Lakers came into the game with a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, and were looking to close out the Grizzlies and advance to the second round. Memphis, on the other hand, was fighting for their playoff lives, hoping to extend the series and force a Game 6.
The Lakers got off to a strong start in the game, with LeBron James leading the charge. James, who had been dominant throughout the series, continued his impressive play with a monster performance in Game 5. He finished the game with 22 points, 20 rebounds, and 7 assists, putting up one of the most impressive stat lines of his illustrious career.
James' performance was crucial for the Lakers, who were missing several key players due to injury. Anthony Davis was still out with a sprained ankle, and Dennis Schroder was also sidelined with a shoulder injury. With two of their top players out, the Lakers needed James to step up and carry the load, and he did just that.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, struggled to find their footing in the game. They had been competitive throughout the series, but the absence of Jaren Jackson Jr., who was out with a knee injury, had hurt their depth and made it difficult to match up with the Lakers. Memphis was led by Ja Morant, who had been outstanding in the series, but even he struggled to get going in Game 5.
Despite their struggles, the Grizzlies managed to keep the game close in the first half, thanks in part to some strong play from their bench. Grayson Allen, who had been quiet for most of the series, came off the bench to score 14 points in the first half, keeping Memphis within striking distance.
But the Lakers proved to be too much for the Grizzlies in the second half. With James leading the way, Los Angeles pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Memphis by 12 points to take a commanding lead. The Grizzlies fought back in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers held on for a 107-99 victory, securing their spot in the second round of the playoffs.
James' performance was the highlight of the game, and it cemented his status as one of the greatest players of all time. His 20 rebounds were a career high, and he became just the third player in NBA history to record a 20-20-7 game in the playoffs, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson in that exclusive club.
But James was quick to credit his teammates for the win. "It's not about me, it's about us," he said after the game. "We had a lot of guys step up tonight and make big plays. We're a team, and we win as a team."
Indeed, the Lakers got contributions from several other players in the win. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a strong game, scoring 18 points and hitting several key three-pointers down the stretch. Montrezl Harrell, who had struggled for much of the series, came off the bench to provide a spark, scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in just 14 minutes of play.
For the Grizzlies, the loss was a disappointing end to what had been a promising season. Despite the injuries to Jackson and other key players, Memphis had fought hard in the series and had shown that they had a bright future ahead of them. Morant, in particular, was a bright spot for the Grizzlies, finishing the game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists but ultimately, it was the Lakers who emerged victorious.