Anthony Davis scored 43 points and LeBron James 36 as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers, 131-122, Saturday evening to win their first-round series four games to one.
The Lakers will face the winner of the Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder first-round series in a Western Conference semifinal series. Houston leads the series, three games to two. Game 6 is scheduled for Monday.
Davis scored nine consecutive points as the Lakers turned a 114-112 lead with four minutes, 30 seconds to play to a 123-112 advantage with 3:39 left. The only time Portland was able to cut the deficit under 11 for the rest of the game was on Jaylen Adams’ layup with 7.6 seconds left for the final points.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Lakers since a 100-93 loss in Game 1 on Aug. 18.
Guard CJ McCollum scored 36 to lead five Trail Blazers in double figures.
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and center Dwight Howard were the other Lakers in double figures with 14 and 11, respectively.
James had a game-high 10 assists and a game-high-equaling 10 rebounds.
Portland had nine players in uniform, three less than the maximum. Guard Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers leading scorer in the playoffs and regular season, missed the game because of a right knee sprain suffered in the third quarter of Game 4 on Monday.
This is the first time the Lakers have won a playoff series since 2012, when they defeated the Denver Nuggets four games to three in a first-round series.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series had been scheduled for Wednesday. However, all three playoff games scheduled for that day were postponed following a player boycott prompted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The two games scheduled for Thursday were also postponed.
The playoffs resumed with three games Saturday after the league and its players association reached an agreement announced Friday that included the commitment to three social-justice measures:
— establishing a “social justice coalition” of players, coaches and team owners that will focus on issues “including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform”;
— working with officials in every NBA city to use team arenas as voting locations for the November election; and
— developing advertisements that will air during every NBA playoff game “dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”
A joint statement from the league and the union said the commitments “follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community.”
The entire NBA postseason is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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