LeBron Leads Lakers To NBA West Finals With Rout Of Rockets

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference SemiFinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 12, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their first NBA Western Conference final in a decade with a 119-96 blowout win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Anthony Davis tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma had 17 and Markieff Morris finished with 16 for the Lakers, who eliminated the Rockets in five games in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Los Angeles advanced to their first NBA final four since the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers beat Phoenix for the conference title and then defeated Boston for the 2010 NBA championship, the last time they won.

“It’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this franchise is to take them back to a place they were accustomed to being. And that’s competing for a championship,” said James.

“It’s an honour for me to wear the purple and gold and for us to just try to continue the legacy and just play great basketball for our fans.”

This will be James’s 11th career conference finals but when asked by reporters how it feels, he changed the subject to talk about the group as a whole.

“Every game is a learning experience for us. Every game is another opportunity for us to get better. We want to continue to build,” said James.

They will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Denver Nuggets in the next playoff round. The Clippers lead that series 3-2.

The Lakers got off to their best start of the series, dominating the opening plays to take a 35-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Their only lull of the game came in the start of the second quarter when Houston briefly woke from their slumber and cut the lead to seven, 38-31.

But the Lakers outscored the Rockets 33-18 in the third to take full command.

They drained 19 three-pointers and shot 52 percent from the floor.

With the game in hand, the Lakers sat three-time NBA champion James and Davis for much of the fourth quarter.

“Everything is falling into place. When I got here the goal was to win a championship and now we are eight wins away,” said Davis.

– ‘A piece away’ –

Once again the James Harden-led Rockets put up little resistance as Houston, after surprising the Lakers in game one of the series, lost their fourth straight and their third in a row by more than 10 points.

Harden led the Rockets with 30 points and Russell Westbrook scored just 10 in the loss.

Harden had a disappointing series, delivering another series of fourth-quarter playoff disappearing acts that have pockmarked his career.

“Tough season for us. Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. So, we just got to figure it out,” he said.

In the past five years, Harden has shot less than 25 percent from beyond the arc in post-season fourth quarters and overtime. He finished two-of-eight from three-point range on Saturday.

Harden said Saturday all they need to become great is to add one more piece to the puzzle.

“It’s very, very frustrating. Especially the amount of work individually I put in,” he said. “But I’ve got to keep chipping away. I’ve got to keep going and keep going until I can’t go anymore.

“I feel like we’re a piece away and we’ve just got keep trying to figure it out. Keep trying to put the pieces around me and Russ to get us where we want to go,” said Harden.

Tempers flared in the fourth quarter both on and off the floor. The brother of Lakers Rajon Rondo now has the dubious honour of being the first fan thrown out of a bubble game after he exchanged words with Houston’s Westbrook.

The public is not allowed in the arena because of the coronavirus pandemic but players are allowed to invite a limited number of family and friends to watch the games in person.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose contract expires at the end of the season, couldn’t say whether he will be back.

“We’ll see what happens. I had four years. Hopefully it keeps going, but you just never know,” he said.

AFP

Aminu Nets Eight Points In Blazers Win

al-farouq-aminuNational Basketball Association (NBA), D’Tigers forward, Al-Farouq Aminu, scored eight points as the Portland Trail Blazers continued its push for the playoffs with a 112-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 26-year-old old Nigerian, shot four of five from the field to go along with six rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes of play.

Portland is currently 9th in the Western Conference and also got 32 points from shooting guard, C. J. McCollum.

They would visit the Los Angeles Lakers in their next game come Sunday.

Hornets shaved by Clippers

The New Orleans Hornets are just another opponent right now to Chris Paul, whose only incentive stems from the Western Conference standings and how high the long-suffering Los Angeles Clippers can get in the playoff seedings.

Paul had 25 points and 10 assists on Monday night in a 97-85 win against the team that first tried to trade him to the Lakers—a deal that was rejected by the league—before shipping the All-Star point guard to the Clippers shortly after the lockout ended.

“We had a lot of fun, just because we won. I could care less who the opponent was,” Paul said. “We’re playing for a lot right now, so we needed this win. It’s not about who we’re playing against. I’m far past that. I mean, my connection to that city will always be there. But I’m one of those people who, when you throw the ball up and you’re on another team, it is what it is.”

Blake Griffin added 20 points and seven rebounds to help the Clippers climb within two games of the Pacific Division-leading Lakers. Clippers reserve point guard Mo Williams missed his second game because of a sore big toe on his left foot, and is expected to be out at least another two weeks after getting it examined by a specialist Saturday.

Al-Farouq Aminu scored 15 points, and Carl Landry added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who didn’t have a player in double digits until Landry’s two free throws trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to 66-52 with 2:21 left in the third quarter. New Orleans committed a season-high 29 turnovers, leading to 35 points for the Clippers.

“Part of our bad start was not handling the ball correctly and turning it over. You really can’t get into a rhythm when you’re playing like that,” said point guard Jarrett Jack, who had five turnovers, nine points and seven assists.”