The Los Angeles Lakers are NBA champions for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final title a decade ago.
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Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the heart-wrenching tragedy that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with isolating for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bio-secure bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.
James had predicted this would be the toughest title to ever win yet the Lakers made the clincher look easy.
James won his fourth title, doing it with a third different franchise — and against the Heat franchise with whom he won his first ring.
Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler — the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers.
The Lakers said they were playing the rest of the season in Bryant’s memory and they delivered what Bryant did five times for L.A. — a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.
Game 6 was over by halftime, the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break. The Heat never led and couldn’t shoot from anywhere: 35% from 2-point range in the half, 33% from 3-point range, and even an uncharacteristic 42% from the line, not like any of it really mattered.
The Lakers were getting everything they wanted and then some, outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.
Rajon Rondo, now a two-time champion and the first to win rings as a player in both Boston and Los Angeles — the franchises now tied with 17 titles apiece — was 6 for 6 in the half, the first time he’d done that since November 2007.
The Lakers’ lead was 46-32 with 5:00 left in the half, and they outscored Miami 18-4 from there until intermission.
The 28-point halftime lead was the second-biggest in NBA Finals history, topped only by the Celtics leading the Lakers 79-49 on May 27, 1985.
True to form, the Heat — a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference that finished with a losing record last season, a team that embraced the challenge of the bubble-like none other — didn’t stop playing, not even when the deficit got to 36 in the third quarter.
A 23-8 run by Miami got the Heat to 90-69 with 8:37 left. But the outcome was never in doubt, and before long confetti was blasted into the air as the Lakers’ celebration formally and officially began.