Lake Buena Vista, US, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Star power forward LeBron James achieved his goal of taking Los Angeles Lakers to their first Western Conference final since 2010, beating Houston Rockets 119-96 on Saturday in the fifth game of semifinal playoffs.
The win gave the Lakers a decisive 4-1 lead in the best-of-seven competition, ending their longest ever drought regarding their participation in the finals.
James will play in the finals after having missed out last season, something unusual for him after having featured in 10 – six with Cleveland Cavaliers and four with Miami Heat.
This is the ninth time in the last 10 years he has made it to the playoffs, with the only absence being last season – his first year with the Lakers -as he was hampered by injuries.
On Saturday, a fully fit James led the Lakers attack posting a double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds, while also providing seven assists.
Besides James, who won his individual duel with Rockets point guard James Harden, five other Lakers players scored in double-digits.
Center Anthony Davis also posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, and provided four assists, controlling the game for the Lakers from within.
Kyle Kuzma netted 17 points, Markieff Morris 16 points and Danny Green another 13 for the Los Angeles team.
Harden emerged as the leader of the Rockets’ attack with 30 points, six rebounds and five assists, which, however, proved insufficient to take his team to a much needed victory to avoid elimination.
Power forward Jeff Green was the second highest scorer with 13 points, while star point guard Russell Westbrook barely managed 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
The Lakers raced away to a 33-11 lead before Houston tried to pull things back, but still trailed 62-51 by the end of the second quarter as they ended up playing catch-up for the rest of the game.
The Los Angeles team overran their competitors in the third quarter 33-18, taking the advantage to 95-69 before the final quarter.
The Rockets had won their first game of the best-of-seven series, but lost the next four to get knocked out of the tournament.
The defeat and consequent elimination of the Rockets concluded a complicated week for the Houston team, whose future remains uncertain.
The team’s veteran coach Mike D’Antoni, whose contract expires at the end of this season, most likely oversaw his last game for the Rockets.
In the Western Conference finals, the Lakers will face the winner of the other semifinal between Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, in which the California team holds a 3-2 lead.
The finals will begin on Wednesday, while the Eastern Conference finals will commence Tuesday between Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. EFE-EPA