The Golden State Warriors were the reigning NBA champions. Still, the Los Angeles Lakers win and removed them with a 122-101 victory on Friday night in Game 6 of their second-round series, thanks to a performance from LeBron James that included 30 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
In the first game of the Western Conference finals, which will take place on Tuesday night in Denver, the seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers will take on Nikola Jokic and the top-seeded Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers never trailed in the decisive victory that capped off their increasingly unbelievable late-season comeback, and Anthony Davis led the way for them by scoring 17 points and grabbing 20 rebounds.
Austin Reaves led the Lakers in scoring with 23 points, the highlight of which was a halfcourt shot from 54 feet and midcourt distance that beat the buzzer. With three victories in as many days over the Warriors, they pushed their record at home since the regular season finished to a perfect 7-0. In addition, Los Angeles ended Golden State’s streak of winning at least one road playoff series in each of their previous 28 playoff series, which was an NBA record and encompassed Stephen Curry’s entire career.
James, Davis, and the Lakers have made history by becoming the first team since the Warriors’ elimination from the playoffs in 2014 to do so before the NBA Finals. Golden State has participated in six of the last eight NBA Finals, while in the other two seasons, they have failed to make it to the playoffs.
The sixth-seeded Warriors’ pursuit of their fifth championship in nine seasons ended with three consecutive losses on the road and an inept offensive performance by Curry’s teammates in Game 6, including a 3-of-19 effort by Klay Thompson, who missed 10 of his 12 3-point attempts. Curry led the Warriors in scoring with 32 points, but he only made four of his 14 shots from beyond the arc. Klay Thompson shot just three-of-twenty from the field.
When it mattered most against the Lakers, the Splash Brothers were far too dry from 3-point range: Thompson shot 10 for 36 on 3-pointers in the series’ final four games, while Curry went 14 for 49.