LeBron James posted a triple-double to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their 17th NBA championship with a 106-93 Game 6 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday night.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Points: LeBron James – 28
- Assists: LeBron James – 10
- Rebounds: Anthony Davis – 15
- Points: Bam Adebayo – 25
- Assists: Jimmy Butler – 8
- Rebounds: Bam Adebayo – 10
Lakers win best-of-seven series 4-2
The ultimate anguish. The ultimate joy. This season, for James and the Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world.
For the first time since Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final title a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 to win the NBA Finals in six games.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.
It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win.
They made the clincher look easy. James won his fourth title, doing it with a third different franchise – and against the Heat franchise that showed him to to become a champion.
Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, who got 12 points from Jimmy Butler the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers.
With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a four-and-a-half month suspension of play that started on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, is over.
So, too, is a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death on January 1 of commissioner emeritus David Stern – the man who did so much to make the league what it is – and then the shock on January 26 that came with the news that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash.
The Lakers said they were playing the rest of the season in his memory.
They delivered what Bryant did five times for the Lakers: a championship ring. And the clinching victory was emphatic.
Game 6 was over by half-time, the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break. The Heat never led and couldn’t shoot from anywhere: 35 per cent from two-point range in the first half, 33 per cent from three-point range and even an uncharacteristic 42 per cent from the free throw line.
The Lakers were getting everything they wanted, outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.
Rondo, now a two-time champion and the first player to win rings as a player with both the Boston Celtics and the Lakers – the franchises now tied with 17 titles apiece – was 6-for-6 in the opening half, the first time he had done that since November 2007. The Lakers lead was 46-32 with 5:00 left in the half, and they outscored Miami 18-4 from there until intermission.
Game over. The 28-point half-time lead was the second-biggest in NBA Finals history, topped only by the Celtics leading the Lakers 79-49 on May 27, 1985.
True to form, the Heat a No 5 seed in the Eastern Conference who finished with a losing record last season, a team that embraced the challenge of the bubble like no other team, didn’t stop playing, not even when the deficit rose to 36 points in the third quarter.
A 23-8 run by Miami got the Heat to 90-69 with 8:37 left in the game. But the outcome was never in doubt, and before long confetti was blasted into the air as the Lakers’ celebration formally and officially began.
Watch a full replay of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sky Sports Arena on Monday at 1:30pm