The last time the Los Angeles Lakers reached the Western
Conference Finals they were led by Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Derek Fisher.
After a ten year wait, enduring the tragic death of the
Black Mamba and a global pandemic that shut the NBA season down for four
months, the Lakers will return led this time by LeBron James, Anthony Davis and
LeBron James had 29 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated
the Houston Rockets, 119-96, in Game 5 on Saturday night, sealing their first
trip to the Western Conference Finals since 2010.
Anthony Davis, who has been astounding throughout the
series, was not needed on offense in the closeout game, finishing with just 13
points and 11 rebound in the blowout victory.
Over the past week, the Lakers and Rockets have traded jabs
back and forth in a confrontation of contrasting styles that had many NBA
experts believing Houston could pull off a historic upset.
The Lakers called the Rockets “small,” James
Harden responded by saying, “It doesn’t matter how tall you are if you
don’t have heart.”
Houston won Game 1 convincingly. The Lakers responded by
removing their two seven-foot centers from the rotation, inserting Markieff
Morris into the starting lineup, and beating the Rockets at their own game.
They won the next four games in dominant fashion, taking the series and perhaps
ending an era in Houston in the process.
Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is in the final year of
his contract and might not return next season. Houston traded future Hall of
Fame point guard Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook last summer, and its still
unknown if he’s a good fit alongside former MVP James Harden in the backcourt.
But on Saturday, it was all Los Angeles in Game 5. For the
second consecutive game, the Lakers led from start to finish, starting the game
on a 23-to-7 run before fans watching from home could turn the game on their
The Lakers led by as many as 22 points in the first half,
and by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter as they removed all doubt of
the final outcome by the first timeout of the fourth quarter. Both teams
accepted the inevitable and emptied their benches for most of the fourth
Houston had their worst shooting performance from three-point
range in the series, shooting just 26 percent (13-for-49). Harden bounced back
from a bad performance in Game 4, by scoring 30 points.
Russell Westbrook struggled in Game 5, scoring just 10
points on 4-for-13 shooting from the field, and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
Jeff Green had 13 points off the bench.
Los Angeles had six players score in double-figures, led by
James who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists in just 29
Morris finished with 16 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Danny Green had his best game of the series, scoring 14 points on four three-pointers. Kyle Kuzma had 17 points off the bench.
After drawing even with the Rockets in the rebounding battle
in Game 1, the Lakers dominated the glass in their four straight victories, and
the same took place on Saturday as the Lakers outrebounded the Rockets, 50-31
in Game 5.
The Lakers will play the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers
and Denver Nuggets series starting on either Wednesday for Friday.