The following sentence would have seemed like an imaginary and fictional script until a few months ago, but this morning (Saturday) it became a reality – the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off the champion Golden State and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers, who faltered throughout most of the season and completely changed their face since the trade of Russell Westbrook, took another step on the way to LeBron James’ fifth ring when they finished 2:4 in the regional semifinals over the outgoing champion with a one-sided and unequivocal 94:111.
The Lakers remain the only ones in the playoffs along with Miami that have yet to lose a home game in the 2023 playoffs, and like the Heat, they also made the long way from the play-in tournament to the regional finals. They will not enjoy the home advantage in the next series either, and there the Denver Nuggets will be waiting for them to recreate the Western Conference Finals from the bubble in 2020, which ended in the team’s last championship from the City of Angels to date. Golden State, on the other hand, said goodbye to the crown with its first series loss to a team from the West since 2014 – before the Steve Kerr era.
In front of a battery of stars and celebrities in the stands, the Lakers had a dream start with LeBron James leading them to 9:22 early with a 3-pointer. The advantage already grew to 17 with a shot from outside the arc by Austin Reeves, but Stephen Kerry warmed up and reduced it to 31:26 at the end of the quarter. The Warriors, who did not lead for a second, tried to stay in the picture, but the Lakers maintained a stable lead of between 5 and 10 points. Austin Reeves closed the half with a spectacular three-pointer from half court, which determined 46:56 for the locals.
That three-pointer by Reaves may have broken the Warriors, as in the second half the margin only grew. James and Reaves danced on the way to 53:72, while Kerry, on the other hand, remained quite alone in the battle and was assisted only by Donta DiVincenzo. The Lakers lost Dennis Schroeder who was ejected for a second technical foul, but another complementary player, the hero of the victory in game 4 Lonnie Walker, contributed eight points in a short time that determined 70:88.
Jordan Paul reduced the score to 91:77 at the end of the quarter and even narrowed the gap to only 11 points at the beginning of the last quarter, but the Lakers pressed the pedal again and showed that at this point in time they are the best team in California. Roy Hachimura completed a quick 0:11 run, and from there there was no turning back for the Warriors to part with the title.
LeBron James came close to a triple double with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, Austin Reaves stood out with 23 as Anthony Davis recorded another great double double of 17 points and 20 rebounds. Stephen Curry said goodbye to the 2022/23 season with 32 points, Klay Thompson said goodbye with a bad display of 8 points and 3 of 19 from the field.