LeBron James finished with 30 points and 10 assists to help the Los Angeles Lakers roll over the Portland Trail Blazers 135-115 in game four of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Monday.
Anthony Davis tallied 18 points, five rebounds and five assists before leaving the contest in the third quarter with back spasms as the top-seeded Lakers seized a 3-1 lead in the series.
“I am proud of my team, the way we played tonight,” said James.
The Lakers wore special black and yellow-trimmed “Black Mamba” jerseys to remember former Laker great Kobe Bryant who died, along with his daughter and seven others, in a helicopter crash seven months ago. Sunday would have marked Bryant’s 42nd birthday.
“I am extremely blessed and honoured ... to continue to remember Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant and all the fallen people who were part of that tragic incident,” said James.
‘OK, he’s here’
Bryant wore No 24 for his last 10 seasons and No 8 before that with the Lakers. James said at one point in the first half he glanced up at the scoreboard and noticed they were ahead 24-8.
“When I looked and saw 24-8, I was like OK, he’s here in the building,” James said of Bryant.
Portland star Damian Lillard also exited in the third quarter with a right knee injury. He was already nursing a dislocated finger and finished with just 11 points in 27 minutes.
Kyle Kuzma scored 18 points and Danny Green added 14 as the Lakers breezed to the dominating wire-to-wire win. Jusuf Nurkic delivered 20 points and 13 rebounds and CJ McCollum scored 18 for the Trail Blazers.
The Lakers can clinch the best-of-seven series with a win in game five on Wednesday.
In the Eastern Conference first round, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points and Khris Middleton added 18 of his 21 in the fourth quarter as the Milwaukee Bucks dominated late to down the Orlando Magic 121-106.
The Bucks, owners of the best record in the regular season, took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series, with game five on Wednesday in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
The underdog Magic, who stunned the Bucks in game one, kept it close through three quarters. But Milwaukee, up 84-81 heading into the final frame, erupted for an 18-3 scoring run to seize control.
‘Shoot until your arms fall off’
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo added 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who are trying to win their first NBA title since 1971.
Wesley Matthews scored 12 points and Brook Lopez 10 for Milwaukee.
Middleton, who averaged just 11 points per game in the first three playoff games on 12-of-37 shooting, said Antetokounmpo told him to “shoot until your arms fall off”.
“At times I am too unselfish, so I have to force the issue,” Middleton said. “Giannis told just to be aggressive and that is what I tried to do.”
The Magic, still without key contributors Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, were led by 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from Nikola Vucevic.
Markelle Fultz added 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Magic who made 18 three-pointers.
“To start the fourth we went through a dry spell offensively and we didn’t execute well,” Vucevic said.
“It’s tough when you play well for three quarters. You have to be able to execute and make shots and we didn’t.”
In another East contest, Goran Dragic scored 23 points and the fifth-seeded Miami Heat completed a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers with a 99-87 win.
Tyler Herro tallied 16 points and Bam Adebayo had 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat, who reached the second round for the first time in four years.
Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Myles Turner finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who have dropped four consecutive playoff series to Miami since 2012.
Miami’s reserves outscored Indiana’s depleted bench 38-3.
In the West, Oklahoma City erased a 15-point deficit to record their second straight win with a 117-114 victory over the Houston Rockets. The series is tied 2-2.
Milwaukee 121 Orlando 106
(Milwaukee lead series 3-1)
Miami 99 Indiana 87
(Miami wins series 4-0)
Oklahoma City 117 Houston 114
(Series tied 2-2)
Los Angeles Lakers 135 Portland 115
(Los Angeles lead series 3-1)