Basketball

LeBron James helps LA Lakers reach first NBA Finals in 10 years

Fuelled by a triple-double from LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers reached the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years by beating the Denver Nuggets 117-107 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

James racked up 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis tallied 27 points, as the Lakers won the Western Conference Finals 4-1.

The Lakers also won the NBA Finals in their last appearance in 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant was the Finals MVP.

James, 35, admitted that Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January, was a key motivation behind their victory.

"Every time you put on the purple and gold, you think about his legacy, you think about him and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years," said James, who is in the NBA Finals for the 10th time - and the first time with the Lakers.

They will meet either Boston Celtics or Miami Heat, who led the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 before this morning's Game 6.

It looked like the Lakers might run away with it when they built a 16-point lead early in the third quarter. But Denver - who were boosted by 20 points apiece from Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant - kept chipping away.

Jamal Murray's two free-throws with 11 seconds left in the third made it 84-84 before Davis drained a three-pointer to put the Lakers up 87-84 heading into the final period.

That's when James took over. Fouled on back-to-back baskets, he made the free-throws to stretch the Lakers' lead to 95-88 with 9min 33sec remaining.

James then scored nine straight points late, including a three-pointer that put the Lakers up 115-103 with 1:57 left.

"I don't know if I've ever witnessed a guy take over a game the way he did in the fourth quarter tonight in person," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James.

"It was remarkable." - AFP

Basketball