NBA

NBA Finals: Lakers end 10-year wait for title with blow-out win over Heat

By Sports Desk October 11, 2020

The LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers annihilated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to claim their first championship since 2010.

Jimmy Butler and Miami delayed the Lakers' title celebrations by winning Game 5 to stave off elimination at Walt Disney World on Friday.

But there was no denying the red-hot Lakers on Sunday as the storied franchise ended their 10-year wait for glory with a 4-2 series victory in Orlando, Florida.

James – who broke the record for most playoff appearances with 260 – captured a fourth NBA title after posting his 11th Finals triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis (19 points and 15 rebounds) had a double-double for his maiden championship.

The Heat were buoyed by the return of star guard Goran Dragic (5 points), who made his comeback from a foot injury, which had sidelined him since Game 1.

But Miami were outplayed from the outset as the Lakers extinguished the Heat with a defensive masterclass.

The Lakers made a hot start, leading 28-20 at the end of the first quarter behind James' nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

Los Angeles showed no mercy as they took a comprehensive 64-36 lead into half-time – 15 points apiece from Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (17 points) fuelling the Lakers.

Rajon Rondo (19 points) dazzled off the bench, managing 13 points on six-of-six shooting from the field while he made his only three-point attempt.

It came as no Heat player scored double-digit points through two quarters.

While the Heat were only outscored by a point in the third quarter, the damage was already done as the Lakers cruised to their 17th NBA championship following a season which saw franchise great Kobe Bryant tragically killed in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter in January.

Bam Adebayo led the steamrolled Heat with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Butler put up 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

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    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Erling Haaland's rapid rise means his days as the top-scoring Norwegian in Champions League history are numbered. 

    Manchester United boss Solskjaer coached Haaland when he was a teenager at Molde in their homeland. 

    Since moving first to Salzburg and then Borussia Dortmund, Haaland has exploded onto European football's biggest stage. 

    Dortmund entertain Lazio on Wednesday, with Haaland already on 16 Champions League goals. 

    Solskjaer, who famously netted a stoppage-time winner for United in the 1999 final against Bayern Munich, will take charge of the Red Devils against Paris Saint-Germain this week and remains full of admiration for his young compatriot. 

    "He'll beat it and very quickly that’s for sure," he told reporters, referring to his own tally of 19 goals in the competition. 

    "The boy has had a great start to his career. It was really good to work with him and to see the potential in him and some parts of me feel proud to have a little bit of an input in such a rise. 

    "I'm sure Erling will score loads of goals in the Champions League."

    Haaland is the third-highest scoring player from Norway in the Champions League, with ex-Valencia and Lyon striker John Carew next in his sights on 18. 

    However, the time in which the 20-year-old has amassed his tally is remarkable, as he dwarfs his countrymen when it comes to goals per minute. 

    Solskjaer, who famously made a habit out of goalscoring cameos from the bench, got his 19 Champions League goal at a rate of one every 189 minutes, while Carew's ratio was one per 218 minutes. 

    Haaland launched his Champions League career with a hat-trick when Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2 last September. His scoring frequency has barely let up since, with his 16 tallying at one every 56 minutes. 

    Since that incredible maiden outing, only Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has scored more in the competition - a haul of 18 during that period playing a big part in the Bundesliga giants' march to glory last season. 

    Lewandowski and Haaland are very much out on their own, with the former's Bayern colleague Serge Gnabry next on nine goals - four of which arrived during a 7-2 thumping of Tottenham. 

    First with Atletico Madrid and now with Juventus, Alvaro Morata has managed eight Champions League goals since Haaland's debut, while Timo Werner and Karim Benzema join Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling on seven. 

    Lionel Messi is one of seven players on six goals during the period in question, while Cristiano Ronaldo has five. 

    In terms of minutes-per-goal, Haaland is only bettered by Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, with the England international's total of five arriving at a rate of one every 50.4 minutes - a return bolstered by his hat-trick against RB Leipzig last month. 

    The Dortmund youngster's reputation as a dead-eyed finisher is certainly well-earned, too. 

    Morata (47 per cent) is the only player with six or more goals to boast a better shot conversion rate than Haaland's 44.4 - outstripping Lewandowski's 32.7 per cent. 

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  • Celtics guard Walker set to miss start of NBA season Celtics guard Walker set to miss start of NBA season

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    The procedure was administered following consultation with specialists in October, the Celtics revealed in a statement on Tuesday.

    He was subsequently put on a 12-week strengthening program to prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on December 22. 

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    The Celtics acquired former Charlotte Hornets star Walker in a sign-and-trade deal last offseason, inking him to a six-year, $141million contract.

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    The Juve and Italy legend saw his side held to a 1-1 draw by Benevento on Saturday, leaving the defending Serie A champions six points behind leaders Milan.

    That gap would be just two points if not for the four Juve have dropped from winning positions in the 2020-21 campaign, Benevento coming from behind to force them to settle for their fifth draw from nine league games.

    It is a much better picture in the Champions League for Juve, with the Bianconeri already sure of their qualification for the last 16 ahead of Wednesday's clash with Dynamo Kiev.

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    "After Benevento, I said that we need more concentration and desire to bring home the points, even when we are ahead in the games," he told a media conference.

    "We've spoken about it and we are all aware of it.

    "I'm absolutely not worried. In Benevento it was our game to win but we weren't good at closing it out and then they managed to do that well, this can happen. We've analysed the match and we will try to improve.

    "We must face all the matches in the same way, both in Europe and in Italy. I would have preferred a little more consistency, but it's normal that it takes a little more time to achieve it. The players know what they must and want to do.

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    Paulo Dybala, who is yet to score in the league this season and has been the subject of continued criticism, is not expected to feature against Dynamo.

    "I don't think we'll see a trident attack tomorrow, Morata will probably play, whilst Dybala will prepare for the derby on Saturday," added Pirlo.

    One player who has impressed this season is Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

    Ramsey endured a difficult first season with Juve after joining from Arsenal in 2019. He scored three goals in Serie A, provided one assist and created 20 chances.

    He has yet to find the net in the league this term but already has an assist to his name and has created 10 chances.

    His per-90 minutes average for chances created of 2.67 is second only to Dejan Kulusevski (2.89).

    Pirlo said of Ramsey: "I have to say that Ramsey was a great find for me and he can still improve. For me and for the team he is very important."

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