Basketball

Lakers rout Rockets to reach Western Conference final

LeBron James had 29 points and 11 rebounds 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 Sunday morning (Sept 13, Singapore time).

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.

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 12 minutes to take a 15-point lead, 35-20, 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 out-scored the Rockets 33-18 in the third quarter to take full command.

They drained 19 three pointers and shot 52 per cent from the floor.

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

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 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.

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

The Rockets were missing Danuel House who was booted from the NBA quarantine bubble after a league investigation revealed he violated “campus health and safety” protocols. – AFP

NBA