Publish: 12 Oct 2020, 12:54 pm
The definitive anguish. The true happiness. For LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, this season had it all. And it ended in the only way that they thought would be fair, with them back on top of the world of basketball.
The Lakers are the NBA champions for the first time since Kobe Bryant's fifth and final title a decade ago. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and on Sunday night, the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 to win six games in the NBA Finals, reports UNB.
For the Lakers, who dealt with the immense sorrow that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the struggles that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble built to keep people safe from the coronavirus, Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds.
It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win.
They made it look easy for the clincher. With a third distinct franchise, James earned his fourth title, and against the Heat franchise that showed him to be a champion.
For Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler, the player who got the team back to title contention in his first Heat season, Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds. For the Lakers, Rajon Rondo scored 19 points.
With that, the bubble chapter of the league, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that began because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 11, is over. So, it's also a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death of commissioner emeritus David Stern on Jan. 1, the guy who did so much to make the league what it is, and then the horror on Jan. 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 L.A. — a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.
By halftime, Game 6 was over, with the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break. The Heat never led and could not shoot from anywhere: 35 percent in the half from 2-point range, 33 percent from 3-point range and even an uncharacteristic 42 percent from the line, not like any of it really mattered. The Lakers got everything they wanted and then some in the second quarter, outscoring Miami 36-16 and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.
Rajon Rondo, now a two-time champion and the first to win rings in both Boston and Los Angeles as a player, the franchises now associated with 17 titles each, were 6 for 6 in the half, the first time since November 2007 he had done that. With 5:00 left in the half, the Lakers' lead was 46-32 and they outscored Miami 18-4 from there before intermission.
Game of ball. The 28-point halftime lead was the second-biggest in the history of the NBA Finals, only surpassed on May 27, 1985, by the Celtics leading the Lakers 79-49.
True to form, a team that welcomed the challenge of the bubble like no other, the Heat, a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference that ended last season with a losing record, did not stop playing, not even when the deficit hit 36 in the third quarter.
A 23-8 run by Miami got the Heat to 90-69 with 8:37 left. But the outcome was never in doubt, and before long confetti was blasted into the air as the Lakers’ celebration formally and officially began.
Lakers: Davis didn't wear the gold-painted shoes he was wearing for Game 5; he went Sunday with the red-and-black ones instead. ... Among the ring winners: Dion Waiters, who started with the Heat this season; 19-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker (he turns 20 Nov. 25) and Kostas Antetokounmpo, the brother of the Milwaukee Bucks' two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Heat: Goran Dragic (torn left plantar fascia) checked in late in the first quarter, his first appearance since Game 1 of the series... Jae Crowder had 12 points and Duncan Robinson had 10 for the Heat.
Join the club
John Salley and Robert Horry were, until Sunday, the only players to win championships with three different franchises. James (Miami, Cleveland) and Danny Green (San Antonio, Toronto) added their names to that list with this title.
With 94 matches played this season, Miami led the NBA, 30 more than Minnesota, which played the fewest in the NBA. This season, including playoffs, the Heat finished with 1,247 3-pointers, 290 more than any other year in team history.
Nobody knows. The draft is set for Nov. 18, but the dates for the start of free agency, training camps and next season’s schedule could be weeks away from being finalized.