LA Lakers reach first Western Conference finals in 10 years
They’ll meet the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James during the Western Conference semi-final playoff game five against the Houston Rockets. Photograph: EPA
LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the Houston Rockets from the NBA playoffs with a 119-96 victory in Game 5 on Saturday at the NBA bubble near Orlando.
It’s the Lakers’ first trip to the Western Conference finals in 10 years, also the last year they won the NBA title. They will meet the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
Like they did against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, the Lakers dropped Game 1 of the series and then won four in a row.
The Lakers, who led by as many as 30 points, seized control of the game in the third quarter. A bucket by Harden allowed Houston to creep within 65-59 but Los Angeles answered with a 18-2 surge after a putback dunk by Davis made it 83-61 with 5:01 left in the third.
The Lakers carried a 95-69 lead into the fourth quarter. They outscored the Rockets 33-18 in the third.
The Lakers bolted out of the gate. They led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter before taking a 35-20 lead heading into the second quarter.
But the Rockets rallied, cutting the deficit to seven after a jumper by Westbrook capped an 8-0 run to open the second quarter.
However, the Lakers increased the lead again to double digits and took a 62-51 advantage at the break. James and Harden each scored 19 points in the first half.
The Lakers outshot the Rockets 52.7 percent to 37.1 percent. Los Angeles converted 19 of 37 3-pointers to 13 of 49 for Houston.