Column: Beating Grizzlies with his grit, LeBron James claims full ownership of the Lakers

Ignore the talk about the Lakers belonging to Anthony Davis, or being inspired by Austin Reaves, or riding Rui Hachimura.

Listen, instead, to a wordless scream directed into the face of courtside fans.

Hear the loud, sweaty smack of a fighting rebound torn from the arms of a Memphis Grizzly.

Feel the relentless elbowing rush to the basket in the throes of game-saving desperation.

C’mon, who are we kidding here?

As all the above scenes illustrated on a night when greatness showed up dressed in grind and grit, the Lakers are LeBron James’ team, period.

They belong to nobody else. They are led by nobody else. They will only go as far as the ageless wonder will take them. They will only survive for as long as their relentless superstar survives.

Experience their clawing 117-111 overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night at a roaring Arena and understand.

The Lakers lead this first-round playoff series three games to one because of LeBron James. They will eventually win this duel and should be favored in the next round against either Golden State or Sacramento because of LeBron James.

It was written here last week that the Lakers are not a championship team, but if you believe in Monday night, then you’ll believe they are capable of all sorts of miracles with LeBron James.

He was asked later, where did you find the legs?

“I don’t know if I found legs, honestly,” he said with a weary smile.

Who knows where the fans found their breath? Who knows where the Grizzlies lost their will? Both things happened on a night when arguably history’s greatest basketball player took long strides toward becoming one of history’s greatest Lakers.

“These are moments that I love,” said James, and goodness, the city loved sharing in them.

You probably already know his numbers — 22 points and a career-high 20 rebounds and only one turnover in 45 minutes, a complete domination that was amazing even to him.

“I’ve done some pretty cool things in my career. I’ve never had 20 and 20 before,” he said. “So, that’s pretty cool, I guess.”

You saw the stats, but did you realize the impact? On a night when a sore-hipped Davis barely showed up and Hachimura had his biggest shot blocked and clutch shooting D’Angelo Russell fouled out, James made every play on his plate to carry them through the fire.

“All of the phenomenal things he’s accomplished, he still has that passion, that grit to want to be on top and to want to put his team in a position in the right way to be able to be successful,” said coach Darvin Ham. “And that’s what you saw.”

First, James saved the entire night with his game-tying layup high off the glass in the final seconds of regulation against a fiercely defending Jaren Jackson Jr.

Yeah, wouldn’t you know it, he practices that exact shot.

“I work on different layup packages … Tier Three is over the square … so it’s not the first time I’ve done it,” James said.

Before that, during a tense and tight fourth quarter standoff, he was just as dramatic in drawing two back-crushing charges on an out-of-control Ja Morant. Just asking, but what other 38-year-old superstar draws two charges in a weary fourth quarter?

“That’s always been me,” James said. “Whatever it takes for the team to be successful and just trying to be as great as I can be offensively. But even more important on the defensive end. That was kind of the mindset tonight.”

Then there were all those rebounds, including five offensive boards where he battled to keep plays alive for his breathless teammates.

“You just dig deep and understand that you’ll be able to sleep at some point. Just not right now,” James said. “This is not the time to rest or forget about an assignment. You’ll have more than enough time after the game.”

Finally, there was The Screamer, a layup with 29 seconds remaining in overtime that gave the Lakers an insurmountable five-point lead. James, who was fouled, finished the play by flexing his giant arms and literally screaming into the face of nearby fans.

Lakers forward LeBron James flexes after scoring against the Grizzlies while drawing a foul.

Lakers forward LeBron James flexes after scoring against the Grizzlies while drawing a foul duirng overtime in Game 4 on Monday night.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve been a part of moments where you know you can kind of get a dagger play or a kill shot,” he said. “And I felt like that play right there … I wouldn’t say, closed the door. But it sealed it. I was just letting the emotion come out.”

The fan, incidentally, screamed right back at him.

They know. LeBron James knows. The Lakers know.

This might not last all spring. This maybe shouldn’t last another season. But right now, for however long they keep playing in these playoffs, they will do so with his fire, through his fight, and on his back.

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