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LeBron James closes in on NBA play-off record as Lakers take the lead

He finished with 38 points to help his side get the better of the Portland Trail Blazers.

LEBRON JAMES FINISHED with 38 points as the Los Angeles Lakers outplayed the Portland Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor for a 116-108 win in game three of their Western Conference play-off series.

James also had 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Anthony Davis scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half as the Lakers grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

lakers-trail-blazers-basketball LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers pictured during game three against the Portland Trail Blazers. Source: AP/PA Images

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points and Alex Caruso added 10 points and seven assists for the Lakers.

Game four is scheduled for Monday.

James said on Saturday that he is getting more comfortable at sharing the offensive load with Davis in key play-off games.

“We try to work off one another,” James said. “There are going to be times when he has it going, so I try to do other things like make sure we keep offence going, and keep our pace flowing.

“Tonight we both had our opportunities. We just tried to make the most of it and live with the results. There are no egos. We want both of us to succeed.”

James also passed former San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan for the second-most play-off wins (158) in league history. The record (161) is held by Derek Fisher.

“He lived in the post-season,” James said of Duncan. “That was his address. For me to be linked with the Big Fundamental, it means a lot.”

Portland’s Damian Lillard tallied 34 points and seven assists while playing with a dislocated finger. CJ McCollum finished with 28 points and eight rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who also relied on 36-year-old veteran Carmelo Anthony for much of their offence.

Anthony, who played the entire fourth quarter, finished with 20 points, but also had five fouls.

The Lakers shot 50% from the field and made 10 of 30 threes. Los Angeles was 28 of 43 from the free-throw line, while the Trail Blazers were just 18 of 19.

“It came down to the fourth quarter. They made their perimeter shots and we came up empty too often,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts. “I hate to put it that simply, but that is the way it was.”

The Milwaukee Bucks looked more like the team with the best record in the NBA as they rolled to a 121-107 victory over Orlando to take a 2-1 lead in their play-off series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo — in the running for a second straight NBA Most Valuable Player Award — scored 35 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as the Bucks edged ahead in the best-of-seven East series that saw them stunned by the Magic in game one.

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Antetokounmpo was a model of efficiency in 30 minutes on the court, connecting on 12 of 14 shots from the field, including two of three from three-point range.

“It was a lot easier because we played defence,” said Antetokounmpo. “Once we play defence, we’re able to run in transition and it makes the game easy.”

nba-playoffs-milwaukee-bucks-at-orlando-magic Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Khris Middleton added 17 points for Milwaukee after he was limited to two in the Bucks’ game-two victory, and Brook Lopez chipped in 16.

The Bucks were already up 53-34 when Marvin Williams of the Bucks and Orlando’s James Ennis were ejected after a second-quarter scuffle that began when they tangled under the basket.

Ennis then shoved Williams, who pushed back and grabbed Ennis’s jersey before Ennis appeared to swing a fist in a bid to free himself. The ejections were likely more costly to the already injury-depleted Magic, and the Bucks closed the half on a 25-9 scoring run.

Elsewhere in the East, the Miami Heat pushed Indiana to the brink of elimination, withstanding a furious Pacers rally for a 124-115 victory.

Jimmy Butler scored 27 points for the Heat, Goran Dragic finished with 24, including five baskets from beyond the arc, and Bam Adebayo had 22 points and 11 rebounds as Miami took a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Miami forced several turnovers down the stretch to prevent Indiana from levelling the score. The Heat led by 20 in the first half and by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but the Pacers pulled within two points twice in the final period.

But after the Pacers made it a one-basket game with four minutes remaining, the Heat closed with a 13-6 scoring run to clinch the victory.

Malcolm Brogdon finished with 34 points and 14 assists for the Pacers.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul drained a three-pointer as part of a 12-0 run to begin overtime as his team edged the Houston Rockets 119-107 after being locked 104-104 at the end of regulation. The Rockets lead the series 2-1. 

© – AFP, 2020

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