It took longer than they would have liked it to, but the Los Angeles Lakers finally closed out their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, earning them their first Western Conference Finals berth since the 2010-11 season.
The Lakers were firing on all cylinders from tip-off, opening the game with a 14-3 run. Their momentum was briefly stunted when Danny Green went down with an injury, which was later revealed to be a hip injury. Green will be re-evaluated in 2-4 weeks.
Despite Green’s injury, the Lakers were able to build on their lead and end the first quarter with a 13-point lead. James led all scorers in the first quarter with 11 points. Once James went to the bench in the second quarter, it was the Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard show.
Davis and Howard combined for 45 points and 15 rebounds on 21-37 shooting from the field. 24 of those 45 points came in the second quarter alone.
The Thunder dared Davis to shoot from behind the arc the same way they have all series, except on Sunday, Davis had the 3-ball going. Once the Thunder started respecting Davis from behind the 3-point line, Howard became a massive threat as a cutter. It was a “pick your poison” scenario for Oklahoma City, and the most deadly poison wasn’t even an option yet.
Once James checked back into the game, the Lakers had already blown it open. James ended the night with 27 points, 13 assists and 5 rebounds, and the Lakers won 117-98.
It’s not the matchup most NBA fans were expecting, nor is the one they wanted, but if it ends in the Lakers lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy, it’s all the same to us.