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James with triple-double as Lakers advance to NBA Finals




LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball agains the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. (AFP)

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers finished off the Denver Nuggets, 117-107, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday (Manila time) to secure the first seat in the NBA championship.

James posted his 27th career playoffs triple-double with 38 points, 10 assists and pulled down 16 rebounds while Anthony Davis got 27 points to carry the Lakers, who wrapped up the best-of-seven series 4-1, back to the NBA Finals for the first time since the Kobe Bryant-led squad won it all in 2010.

Los Angeles denied Denver a chance to mount another series comeback attempt. The Nuggets successfully pulled off historic come-from-behind victories in the first two rounds of the playoffs against Utah and the LA Clippers after being down 3-1.

The Lakers also booted out Portland and Houston both in Game 5.

James took over in the fourth quarter, relentlessly attacking the basket to keep the Nuggets, who erased a 16-point deficit with a furious rally in the third quarter, at bay.

Denver went down, 72-56, with eight minutes left in the third before the Nuggets chipped away their deficit to knot the game at 84 off a pair of Jamal Murray free throws with 11 seconds remaining.  Davis put Los Angeles back on top with a trey with just a second left in the period.

Kobe Bryant was NBA Finals MVP in 2010 when the Lakers lifted their 16th title, and it has been an emotional road to the finals this season for the Lakers after the death of Bryant in a helicopter crash in January.

They will take on the winners of the Eastern Conference final series between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The Heat lead that series 3-2 with game six coming up on Monday.

“We’re going to enjoy it tonight, but we understand we’ve got bigger fish to fry,” James said as the Western Conference title was celebrated on court. “We understand there’s a bigger goal.”

Jerami Grant and Nikola Jokic had 20 points each while Murray had 19 for the Nuggets.