Lakers dominate Blazers, Bucks blow past Magic in NBA play-offs
LeBron James finished with 38 points as the Los Angeles Lakers outplayed the Portland Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor on Saturday (Aug 22) for a 116-108 win in Game Three of their Western Conference play-off series.
James also had 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Anthony Davis scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half as the Lakers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round series in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points and Alex Caruso added 10 points and seven assists for the Lakers.
Game Four is scheduled for Monday.
James said on Saturday he is getting more comfortable at sharing the offensive load with Davis in key play-off games.
“We try to work off each other,” James said.
“There are going to be times when he has it going, so I try to do other things like make sure we keep offence going, and keep our pace flowing. Tonight we both had our opportunities. We just tried to make the most of it and live with the results. There are no egos. We want both of us to succeed.”
James also passed former San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan for the second most play-off wins (158) in league history.
“He lived in the post-season,” James said of Duncan.
“That was his address. For me to be linked with the Big Fundamental, it means a lot.”
Portland’s Damian Lillard tallied 34 points and seven assists, while playing with a dislocated finger.
CJ McCollum finished with 28 points and eight rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who also relied on veteran Carmelo Anthony for much of their offence. The 36-year-old played the entire fourth quarter and finished with 20 points, but also had five fouls.
The Lakers shot 50 per cent from the field and made 10 of 30 threes. They made 28 of 43 from the free-throw line, while the Trail Blazers were just 18 of 19.
“It came down to the fourth quarter. They made their perimeter shots and we came up empty too often,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts.
“I hate to put it that simply, but that is the way it was.”
Elsewhere, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul drained a three-pointer as part of a 12-0 run to begin overtime as his team edged out the Houston Rockets 119-107 after being locked 104-104 at the end of regulation. The Rockets lead the series 2-1.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks looked more like the team with the best record in the NBA as they rolled to a 121-107 victory over the Orlando Magic to take a 2-1 lead in their play-off series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – in the running for a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player Award – scored 35 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, as the Bucks edged ahead in the series that saw them stunned by the Magic in Game One.
Antetokounmpo was a model of efficiency in 30 minutes on the court, connecting on 12 of 14 shots from the field, including two of three from three-point range.
“It was a lot easier because we played defence,” said Antetokounmpo.
“Once we played defence, we were able to run in transition and it made the game easy.”
Khris Middleton added 17 points for Milwaukee after he was limited to just two in the Bucks’ Game-Two victory, and Brook Lopez chipped in 16.
The Bucks were already up 53-34 when Marvin Williams of the Bucks and Orlando’s James Ennis were ejected after a second-quarter scuffle that began when they tangled under the basket. Ennis then shoved Williams, who pushed back and grabbed Ennis’ jersey, before the Orlando forward appeared to swing a fist in a bid to free himself.
The ejections were likely more costly to the already injury-depleted Magic, and the Bucks closed the half on a 25-9 scoring run.
Elsewhere in the East, the Miami Heat pushed Indiana to the brink of elimination, withstanding a furious Pacers rally for a 124-115 victory.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points for the Heat, Goran Dragic finished with 24, including five baskets from beyond the arc, and Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 11 rebounds as Miami took a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Miami forced several turnovers down the stretch to prevent Indiana from levelling the score. The Heat led by 20 points in the first half and by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but the Pacers pulled within two points twice in the final period.
But, after the Pacers made it a one-basket game with four minutes remaining, the Heat closed with a 13-6 scoring run to clinch the victory. Malcolm Brogdon finished with 34 points and 14 assists for the Pacers. – AFP