Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, shoots as Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole defends during the first half in Game 3. Alamy Stock Photo

Lakers rout Warriors, Heat rip Knicks to grab NBA series leads

Anthony Davis scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while LeBron James added 21 points.

ANTHONY DAVIS and LeBron James powered the Los Angeles Lakers in a rout of defending champion Golden State on Saturday while Jimmy Butler returned from an ankle injury to spark Miami’s romp over New York in the NBA playoffs.

Davis scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while LeBron James added 21 points to lead the host Lakers over the Warriors 127-97.

Davis made 7-of-10 shots from the floor, 11-of-12 from the free throw line, and had four blocks, three assists and three steals while overwhelming with defensive plays.

“I just wanted to come out and get back to the dominant performance that I do defensively,” Davis said.

“We wanted to get back to our roots, and defending and guarding. This is a tough team to guard but we know that we can do it and we did it well tonight, holding them to 97 points.”

James, who went the first 13 minutes without shooting, added eight assists and eight rebounds while D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points, all in the first half.

The Lakers grabbed a 2-1 lead over the defending champion Warriors in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with game four on Monday in Los Angeles.

“It’s a battle,” Davis said of the series. “Two teams that want it and can score and can give each other a beat down any given night.

“We know they’re going to come out with a lot of firepower Monday trying not to go down 3-1. We’ve got to have the mindset we had tonight.”

An 18-4 run to end the first quarter gave the Warriors a 30-23 lead, with James not taking a shot in the first period of a playoff game for the first time in his career.

“It’s just a case of allowing the game to come to him, letting a natural rhythm happen and not forcing things,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

After falling behind 40-29, the Lakers answered with a 30-8 run in the final 7:22 of the second quarter for a 59-48 halftime lead.

“As a group, we wasn’t shooting the ball well. We locked up defensively and got easy ones,” D’Angelo Russell said.

The Lakers, who stretched the lead as large as 20 points in the third quarter, entered the fourth ahead 86-68 and cruised from there.

Ham praised Davis for his defending.

“He sets a tone for us defensively,” Ham said. “He’s the catalyst. He’s the anchor. His activity, when he is changing shots, blocking shots, it’s amazing. He’s locked in.”

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 23 points while Andrew Wiggins added 16 and Klay Thompson had 15.

In the Eastern Conference, Butler scored 28 points to lead the Heat over the Knicks 105-86, giving Miami a 2-1 series lead with game four Monday on their home court.

“It feels good to get a dub (W) on our home floor in front of our fans,” Butler said. “We’re going to take that and roll with it.”

 - Butler boosts Miami -

Butler missed Miami’s loss Tuesday after suffering an injury in the series opener, but returned to help the Heat lead from start to finish.

“I’m comfortable, I’m confident and I work extremely hard at my craft,” Butler said.

“My teammates have got a lot to do with that. They always make sure I’m catching the ball in spots where I’m comfortable and letting me be aggressive.”

Max Strus added 19 points for Miami while Bam Adebayo added 17 points and 12 rebounds and Kyle Lowry had 14 points.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler’s return infused his teammates with confidence.

“You can’t put an analytic to it. It’s just the overall confidence level your team has — that you can always get the ball to him and know that we’ll get something efficient and coherent,” Spoelstra said of Butler.

“You need a guy like Jimmy when you’re playing against a good team like this.”

Jalen Brunson led New York with 20 points but the Knicks made only 31-of-91 shots from the floor.

“The start of the game we got back on our heels,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We couldn’t get stops early, so we didn’t get any easy buckets, so we paid the price.”

– © AFP 2023

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