In the space of two seasons, LeBron James has returned the Los Angeles Lakers to the pinnacle of NBA basketball.
The Lakers clinched a record-equalling 17th NBA championship in Orlando on Monday (AEDT) as they finally put Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat away in an emphatic 106-93 win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
James, Anthony Davis, and a locked-in Lakers defence shut the door on a Miami team that was never going to go away without a fight. In the end, they simply weren’t good enough.
Playing with the memory of the late Kobe Bryant, James, who was awarded Finals MVP, claimed his fourth ring, and third with a different team.
The Lakers’ first championship since 2010 was the culmination of a plan that started and centred around James, who arrived in 2018. After missing the post-season in his first year, James, this time with the help of an All-Star partner in Davis, led the Lakers all the way to the promised land as his rivals fell short.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis brought the Lakers another title.Source:AFP
Regular season MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Buck didn’t get to the Conference Finals. Neither did Los Angeles rivals, the Clippers, who many considered to be the favourites to win the title.
No team took more than one game off the Lakers during the playoffs, before Miami pushed them to what might have been a nervy Game 6. Instead, it was a four-quarter clinic from Los Angeles, who never looked troubled.
Butler put on a show in Game 3 and Game 5. In the sixth instalment, with Davis the anchor on defence, the Lakers simply turned off the tap.
Rajon Rondo stepped up off the bench to help his two superstars.Source:AFP
Everything was a struggle for Miami on the offensive end. Defensively, it wasn’t much prettier.
Against a franchise he won two rings with, LeBron James tallied a 28th playoff triple-double with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds in a game that was already over at half-time.
A 28-20 first quarter lead turned into a 64-36 advantage at the break, and Los Angeles never allowed Miami to even sniff a comeback.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had another standout performance as he finished with 17 points, while Rajon Rondo provided a surprising 13 points in the first-half, before finishing with 19 off the bench.
“We have a PHD in adversity,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said post-game. “We’ve been through a lot.”
Miami, who trailed by as many as 36 points, finished within 13 points, but ultimately came up short when it mattered most.
Bam Adebayo topscored for the Heat with 25 points and added 10 rebounds, while Butler was held to just 10 points, along with seven boards and eight assists.
Goran Dragic checked into the series for the first time since tearing his plantar fascia (left foot) in Game 1, but was unable to make a real impact.
Erik Spoelstra’s Heat exceeded expectations to just reach the NBA Finals, but were unable to overcome injuries and a hefty talent deficit against the Lakers.
More to come!
Originally published asLeBron crowned King once more as Lakers extinguish Heat
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