Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James headed to the conference finals

By: AP |

Updated: September 13, 2020 11:33:58 am

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) directs the offense throughout the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball recreation towards the Houston Rockets Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Los Angeles Lakers are going to the conference finals for the first time in a decade, ending the longest drought in franchise historical past.

LeBron James goes there for the first time since 2018. For him, that additionally qualifies as ending a drought.

James scored 29 factors and the Lakers wrapped up their first journey to the Western Conference finals since 2010 by topping the Houston Rockets 119-96 on Saturday night time in Game 5 at Walt Disney World.

“It’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this franchise, to take them back to a place that they were accustomed to being — and that’s competing for a championship,” James stated. “It’s an honor for me to wear the purple and gold, and for us, we just try to continue the legacy.”

Kyle Kuzma scored 17 factors, Markieff Morris had 16, Danny Green added 14 and Anthony Davis completed with 13 for the top-seeded Lakers. They will play both the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers or third-seeded Denver Nuggets for the West title in a sequence that received’t start earlier than Wednesday.

James goes to the conference finals for the eleventh time general — six with Cleveland, 4 with Miami and now with the Lakers. It’s his ninth time getting to this spherical in the final 10 seasons; the one miss in that stretch was final season, when his inaugural yr with the Lakers fell aside due to harm and the crew missed the playoffs.

“The opportunity to play for a championship, that’s what we’re all here for, that’s what we all signed up for,” James stated.

James Harden scored 30 factors, Jeff Green scored 13 and Russell Westbrook had 10 for Houston.

“Tough season for us,” Harden stated. “Obviously, it didn’t end like we wanted it to. Just got to figure it out.”

And now that the offseason is right here, the hypothesis about coach Mike D’Antoni’s future will ramp up. His contract with the Rockets is now full, the sides couldn’t agree on phrases of any extension a yr in the past, and he’s been talked about as a candidate for the vacancies in Indiana and Philadelphia.

“We’ve got a great organization, great city, great fans, team’s great,” D’Antoni stated. “I mean, everything’s good here. We’ll see what happens, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I had four years and hopefully it keeps going. You just never know.”

It was a troublesome finish to a troublesome week for the Rockets.

Westbrook exchanged heated phrases with a fan in the household part throughout the fourth quarter; NBA safety requested the man, recognized by ESPN as a brother of Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, to depart the recreation.

“He started talking crazy,” Westbrook stated. “I don’t play that game.”

Houston received Game 1 of the sequence and misplaced the subsequent 4. Saturday’s finale got here a day after Danuel House — who averaged 11.4 factors in 9 playoff video games this season — was advised to depart the bubble. An NBA investigation confirmed he had an unauthorized visitor in his room for a number of hours earlier this week, and he missed the final three video games of the sequence.

“It affected us,” Harden stated, who known as the state of affairs disappointing.

The Lakers ran out to a 33-11 lead, although Houston got here proper again with a 17-2 run to get inside seven. The Lakers’ lead was 62-51 at the half after the Rockets turned 13 Los Angeles turnovers into 15 factors, the largest purpose why Houston was nonetheless in the recreation to that time.

Houston received inside seven on a drive by Westbrook 2:09 into the third, and that was the final actual gasp of hope for the Rockets. The Lakers scored the subsequent 15 factors, and the lead was 95-69 going into the last quarter.

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