A decisive victory over the defending NBA champions allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to advance to the Western Conference finals six months and a day after they started the regular season with a record of 2-10.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the main catalysts driving the Lakers’ turnaround, which has grown more astounding over the past few weeks. Only three years ago, the superstars shared a ring, and Friday night, after leading their team to its largest home victory in more than a decade, they joyfully embraced one another.
In Game 6 of the second-round series, the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 122-101 thanks to James’ 30 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
For the seventh-seeded Lakers, who never trailed in their third home victory over Golden State in seven days, Davis had 17 points and 20 rebounds. Austin Reaves led Los Angeles in scoring with 23 points, including a 54-foot field goal at the buzzer of halftime. He also had six assists, five rebounds, and weathered every attempt by Stephen Curry to will the Warriors back into it.
The Western Conference finals between the Lakers and the top-seeded Nuggets will begin on Tuesday night in Denver after the Lakers unseated the champions in impressive fashion. It’s a repeat of the conference finals, which Los Angeles won in five games, in the 2020 Florida bubble.
The Lakers increased their home record to 7-0 since the end of the regular season by thrashing the Warriors one last time. Additionally, they ended Golden State’s NBA-record run that spanned Curry’s entire career of 28 playoff series with at least one victory on the road.
Darvin Ham, the team’s first-year head coach, remarked, “It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, but we kept powering through. Our vibes stayed positive, and finally our new pieces came together.”
Since 2014, no team has eliminated Curry’s Warriors from the playoffs before the NBA Finals save James, Davis, and the Lakers. Golden State has participated in six of the last eight NBA Finals, while the other two seasons saw no postseason action at all.
“The better team won, and I can’t fault our players for the effort,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Because these guys are such competitors, it’s going to hurt. But that’s why we play: To compete against the best and see what we’ve got. Didn’t quite have enough, but it wasn’t for a lack of heart or effort.”
Curry led the sixth-seeded Warriors with 32 points despite missing 10 of his 14 3-point attempts. Curry’s teammates struggled offensively in Game 6, shooting 3-of-19 and missing 10 of his 12 3-point attempts. The Warriors’ quest for their fifth championship in nine seasons came to an end with three straight road losses.
Curry attributed the Warriors’ subpar shooting on a lack of changeup pitches, which contributed to the outcome.
The Splash Brothers were far too ineffective against the Lakers when it counted: Curry was 14 for 49 from 3-point range during the final four games of the series, while Thompson went 10 for 36.
The Warriors’ Donte DiVincenzo scored a playoff-record 16 points, but only starter Stephen Curry reached double figures, with the other four shooting 11 for 38.
Draymond Green described it as “definitely disappointing”. “I’ve been trying to comprehend the emotions ever since we finished in May. They ultimately proved to be the superior squad.”
The Lakers took control early, held off Warriors comebacks, and then with a well-rounded effort led by James, 38, who recorded his first 30-point playoff game since the 2020 NBA Finals, the Lakers ran away with it in the fourth quarter.
The 20-year veteran led the Lakers’ offensive effort while Davis, who exited Game 5 early after taking a blow to the head, had another outstanding defensive game. The veteran can still exert his will as powerfully as virtually any elite player.
Dennis Schröder, the Lakers’ sparkplug guard and primary defender of Curry, was sent off in the third quarter, but the team still managed to win thanks to 19 points from D’Angelo Russell. In his first postseason start for the Lakers, Schröder had five assists and guarded tenaciously, but the German point guard was ejected with his second technical foul after Green shoved the ball in Schröder’s face.
His absence hardly seemed to benefit the Warriors, who were unable to convert their clear-cut opportunities.
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