NBA

LeBron and Davis lead Lakers into second round, Bucks also advance as playoffs resume

By Sports Desk August 29, 2020

LeBron James and Anthony Davis inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs.

The NBA postseason resumed at Walt Disney World Resort on Saturday following a three-day strike amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man – in Wisconsin.

James posted 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Davis finished with 43 points in Saturday's 131-122 win in the Western Conference first round.

Davis and James became the first duo since the ABA-NBA merger to score 35-plus points on 70-plus percent shooting each in the same playoff game, per STATS.

The top-seeded Lakers will face either the Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks advanced in the Eastern Conference thanks to their 118-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks, who triggered protests throughout professional sports in the United States on Wednesday, were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo in their return to the court.

Bucks star and reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 17 rebounds as the Miami Heat await in the next round.

 

Rockets soar as Harden stars

James Harden posted 31 points to lead the Rockets to a 114-80 rout of the Thunder and a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference. Fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook also returned from injury.

A Nikola Vucevic double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds were not enough for the eliminated Magic.

In the absence of All-Star team-mate Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum put up 36 points, while Carmelo Anthony had 27 of his own.

 

Rough night for Gallinari and Thunder

Danilo Gallinari managed just one point in the Thunder's heavy loss. He was 0 of five from the field, while missing all three attempts from beyond the arc in 22 minutes. Thunder team-mate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, only posted four points on six-of-eight shooting from the field, and 0 of four from three-point range.

In Orlando's defeat, Gary Clark played 24 minutes and was 0 of four from the field and 0 of three from beyond the arc. He made one of two free throws.

 

LeBron and Davies combine

The two All-Stars continue to flourish in pursuit of the ultimate goal – an NBA championship.

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 118-104 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 114-80 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers 131-122 Portland Trail Blazers

 

Celtics face Raptors

The Eastern Conference second-round series between the Boston Celtics and defending champions the Toronto Raptors gets underway on Sunday.

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    It was something only Kobe Bryant could have done.

    At the end of an illustrious 20-year career that included five NBA championship wins, 18 All-Star selections and All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions, Bryant said farewell to the Los Angeles Lakers with a Hollywood ending.

    He produced one of the most memorable final appearances the league has seen against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.

    On the anniversary of his death alongside 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash, we look back at one of the finest moments of his career.

    POINTING THE WAY

    After Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea's bizarre rendition of the United States' national anthem, the 18,997 fans inside Staples Center were treated to something far more familiar.

    Bryant racked up 60 points against the Jazz, which was the most scored by a player in a single game in the NBA that season. However, it was the first time he had gone past 50 since 2009, when he poured in 61 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

    Bryant was 6-of-21 from three-point range and had plenty of joy in the paint, where he accumulated 22 points. He scored a total of 16 unassisted points, with his final seven baskets coming via his own work.

    SHOOT YOUR SHOT

    If you don't shoot you don't score, and Bryant did his utmost to get points on the board. His 50 field goal attempts eclipsed the record of 49 set by the great Michael Jordan against the Orlando Magic in 1993. The 2008 MVP took 15 more shots than the rest of his team-mates combined.

    Bryant nailed 18 of 40 shots with a defender within 3.5 feet against the Jazz and despite his record-breaking number of attempts he still took care of the ball, committing just two turnovers.

    SLOW START, STRONG FINISH

    It was not immediately clear the game was going to go so well for Bryant. He missed his first five shots and did not have a make until after the first six minutes of the game.

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    Kobe Bryant forged a legacy in the NBA that will forever stand the test of time.

    A year has passed since the Los Angeles Lakers legend and 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among those to tragically lose their lives in a helicopter crash.

    Bryant was a star who transcended the game of basketball after entering the NBA in 1996, providing highlight after highlight up until his retirement in 2016, with staggering point hauls.

    To mark the anniversary of his passing, we look at Bryant's five greatest games with the Lakers, where the five-time NBA champion spent his entire 20-year career.

     

    65 points - March 16, 2007 v Portland Trail Blazers

    Against the Trail Blazers at Staples Center, Bryant came close to reaching the career-high 81 points he had recorded just over a year earlier. The superstar guard lit up the Blazers with 65 points as the Lakers won 116-111. Bryant shot 23-of-39, including 11-of-12 from the free throw line, while he also made eight three-pointers.

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    61 points - February 2, 2009 v New York Knicks

    Madison Square Garden hosted one of Bryant's greatest performances almost 12 years ago. At the world-famous arena in New York, 'the Black Mamba' posted 61 points - a venue record for a visiting player - against the Knicks, who lost 126-117 to the Lakers. On 19-of-31 shooting, Bryant finished with three assists and one block. He scored 34 points in the first half alone en route to the record, which was matched by Houston Rockets star James Harden in 2019.

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    62 points - December 20, 2005 v Dallas Mavericks

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    "It was just one of those nights," Bryant told reporters as he reflected on the game in 2016. "Yes [I could have scored 80 points that night]. It sounds funny to say, but yes, I could have."

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    Bryant said farewell to basketball in the only way he knew how, with an exclamation mark. It was a true Hollywood goodbye as Bryant capped an illustrious career by scoring 60 final-game points in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Bryant drained 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009.

    "It's hard to believe it happened this way," Bryant, who played 42 minutes and attempted a career-high 50 shots, said. "I'm still shocked about it… The perfect ending would have been a championship. But tonight was [me] trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time."

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    "Not even in my dreams," Bryant said. "That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things."

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    "Home cooking, the opportunity to see my mom and get a home-cooked meal," he replied when asked what inspired him against the Cavs.

    "I saw my uncle too, it just felt good to be back in my haven, my rest haven, just being home.

    "Also, you can be inspired watching the greatest play, watching Brady, that team, that inspired me too. It felt good from beginning."

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    "When he's playing like that it's fun to watch, amazing to see the shots he makes and shots he takes. He's a hell of a player," Davis said.

    "It was one of those nights for him, getting to the basket, hitting the three. He wasn't missing. From the first quarter I knew it was going to be a good night for him."

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