written by: TERRYON ADAMS, staff writer
With a 117-107 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in Orlando, on Saturday night, the Lakers eliminated the Nuggets to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years, after six consecutive years of failing to make the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers will face the Miami Heat in the Lakers’ 32nd NBA Finals appearance, the most in league history. It is the tenth finals appearance by LeBron James alone.
The player of the game was LeBron James, scoring 38 points with 16 rebounds and 10 assists. Behind him was Anthony Davis, scoring 27 points with 16 rebounds and three assists.
James made consecutive baskets while getting fouled early in the fourth, pushing a two-point lead to 95-88.
When Denver made one last push to cut it to four, James set up Danny Green for a 3-pointer for his tenth assist, then made a jumper himself to extend it to 108-99.
The Nuggets became the 16th team in NBA history to lose 10 games in a single postseason.
They also became the second team to play at least 19 games in a single playoff and finish with a record below .500.Their final record was 9-10, as was true of the Washington Bullets in the 1979 postseason.
The Nuggets had come back from 3-1 down in the first two rounds before being beat by the Lakers.
Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who had fought off elimination six times before the Lakers finally put them away. Jamal Murray added 19 points and eight assists, but the star guard struggled with foot pain and lacked his usual explosiveness.
Denver fell far behind one more time, but James wouldn’t allow another comeback. He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.
The Heat are going to the NBA Finals, surprising many, perhaps, but not themselves.
Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and the Heat won the Eastern Conference finals for the sixth time by topping the Boston Celtics 125-113 in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Tyler Herro scored 19 points, Duncan Robinson and Andre Iguodala each had 15 points for the Heat.
Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 24 and a career-high 11 assists, and Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker each scored 20 points for Boston — which fell in the East finals for the third time in the last four seasons.
The Heat won the series 4-2 — and now, waiting on that next stage to decide the NBA title, are LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 was last night.