Basketball

LeBron James realistic as LA Lakers are pushed to brink of elimination

LeBron James made no excuses after the Los Angeles Lakers were left facing elimination from the NBA play-offs yesterday morning (Singapore time) following a humiliating 115-85 defeat by the Phoenix Suns.

Devin Booker scored 30 points as the Suns take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven play-off series, which means the Lakers must win both the remaining games to stay alive. Defeat in Game 6 will send them packing.

"We've got to be better if we want to force a Game 7," James said. "A lot to cover and see what we can do better in Game 6, but they pretty much just kicked our ass, there's nothing else really to say."

James, 36, hopes the high-stakes nature of tomorrow morning's game in Los Angeles will bring out the best in the reigning NBA champions.

"It's literally win or go home at this point," James said. "You shoot all the bullets you got and throw the gun too."

The Lakers will have their work cut out. Anthony Davis, whose physical presence was sorely missed in Game 5, is not expected to recover from a groin injury in time for tomorrow.

Also on the brink of elimination are the Portland Trail Blazers, who slipped to a 147-140 double overtime defeat against the Denver Nuggets, despite Damian Lillard's record-breaking 55-point display.

The Game 5 result leaves Denver 3-2 ahead in the play-off series, meaning Portland must also win both of their remaining games to advance.

Lillard,30, lived up to his reputation as a clutch competitor, almost single-handedly dragging the Blazers into the contest with a string of crucial three-pointers.

His final points tally included 12 three-pointers, a record for the NBA play-offs and only two behind the all-time record of 14 in a game held by Klay Thompson.

Lillard forced overtime with just 3.7 seconds left, draining a three-pointer to make it 121-121.

He struck again at the end of overtime with another three-pointer to make it 135-135.

His final three-pointer of the night put Portland 140-138 ahead in double overtime, but a costly late blunder by C.J. McCollum, inadvertently stepping out of bounds, allowed Denver to snatch victory.

Over in the Eastern Conference, second seeds Brooklyn Nets booked a semi-final date with the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks after a 4-1 play-off series victory over the Boston Celtics.

James Harden erupted for a triple-double of 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Kyrie Irving (25 points) and Kevin Durant (24 points) also had big contributions as the Nets pulled off a 123-109 win at New York's Barclays Center.

"We've dealt with so much adversity through the regular season, it felt good to get some meaningful games in," Harden said. "It's time to lock in now." - AFP, REUTERS

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