Lakers beat Nuggets in Game 5 to reach NBA Finals

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris (11) and forward Jerami Grant (9) during game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Sep 26, 2020. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
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Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. (1) during Game 5 of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Updated 27 September 2020

Lakers beat Nuggets in Game 5 to reach NBA Finals

  • The Lakers will face either Miami or Boston in their 32nd NBA Finals appearance, most in league history

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: LeBron James is going to a 10th NBA Finals — and for the first time in a decade, so are the Los Angeles Lakers.
James punctuated his 27th postseason triple-double with a big fourth quarter, powering the Lakers to a 117-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals in five games.
James finished with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to become the fourth player to reach 10 NBA Finals. It took him two seasons to make it with the Lakers, after falling short of the playoffs in an injury-plagued first season following eight consecutive trips with Miami and Cleveland.
“My teammates said bring us home and it was my responsibility to try to make the right plays and do the right things on the floor to help us win ballgames,” James said during a trophy presentation in mostly empty arena at Disney World, instead of in front of their fans at Staples Center.
The Lakers will face either Miami or Boston in their 32nd NBA Finals appearance, most in league history. They haven’t played for the title since beating the Celtics in 2010 for the last of their 16 titles.
Anthony Davis added 27 points and will end his first season with Los Angeles by playing in his first NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who had fought off elimination six times before the Lakers finally put them away. Jamal Murray added 19 points and eight assists but the star guard struggled with some leg or foot pain and lacked his usual explosiveness.
The Nuggets had come back from 3-1 down in the first two rounds before being finally ousted a month since they would have departed the bubble had they lost the first time they faced elimination, in Game 5 against Utah on Aug. 25.
Denver fell far behind one more time but James wouldn’t allow another comeback.
The lead was up to 72-56 four minutes into the third with Murray hobbling, but the Nuggets — who were down 15 in the third quarter of Game 5 against Utah and 16 at the same point of Game 5 against the Clippers — put together a comeback fueled largely by Grant. They came all the way back to tie at 84 on Murray’s free throws, before Davis made a 3-pointer with a second to go.
James made consecutive baskets while getting fouled early in the fourth, pushing a two-point lead to 95-88. When Denver made one last push to cut it to four, James set up Danny Green for a 3-pointer for his 10th assist, then made a jumper himself to extend it to 108-99.
Nuggets: The Nuggets became the 16th team in NBA history to lose 10 games in a single postseason. The record is 11, shared by four teams, most recently the 2009 Orlando Magic. They also became the second team to play at least 19 games in a single playoff and finish with a record below .500; they were 9-10, as were the Washington Bullets in the 1979 postseason.
Lakers: The Lakers have wrapped up all three series in five games. ... Coach Frank Vogel said Davis was bothered by just some minor soreness after rolling his left ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

END OF THE ROAD
Game 5 came on Denver coach Michael Malone’s 82nd day in the bubble after arriving July 7. He thinks the time showed that the Nuggets are headed in the right direction and hoped it would last few weeks longer.
“But when I think about this whole experience, as crazy as it sounds — and it’s been hard being away from family — being with the players and staff and the front office, everyone that’s here, has made this a lot easier than I imagine it could be otherwise,” Malone said.

SEASONS CHANGE
NBA teams usually start training camp near the end of September and Vogel said it was strange to be playing conference finals games, which usually happen near the end of May.
“Very much so, especially because we are in Florida and it’s 90 degrees every day, still,” he said. “Somebody told me that it’s fall the other day and I didn’t really believe them. It’s very unusual to be playing playoff basketball in the fall in 90-degree weather.”
 


Coman strikes again as Bayern open title defense by routing Atletico

Updated 46 min 35 sec ago

Coman strikes again as Bayern open title defense by routing Atletico

  • The defeat was the joint heaviest Atletico has suffered under Diego Simeone

MUNICH, Germany: Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman picked up where he left off last season with two goals in a 4-0 home rout of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday as the holders got the defense of their Champions League campaign off to a winning start.
Coman, whose header settled last season’s Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain just 59 days ago in Lisbon, scored Bayern’s opening goal, created their second and claimed their fourth behind closed doors at the Allianz Arena.
“We played very well, I am very happy with my two goals,” Coman told Sky Sports.
“The winning goal in last season’s final is a good motivator, but it’s in the past now and we have fresh goals this season.”
Coman saved his best for last with a superb effort, turning the Atletico defense inside out before firing home on 72 minutes.
Goals by midfielders Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso, who produced an unstoppable long-range strike from outside the box, added to Atletico’s misery in Munich.
The defeat was the joint heaviest Atletico has suffered under Diego Simeone, rivalling the 4-0 drubbing dished out at Dortmund almost exactly two years ago.
“I am very pleased with the win, especially in defense, and we were rewarded for our hard work,” said head coach Hansi Flick after Bayern’s 12th straight win in Europe dating back to their 2018/19 last 16 defeat to Liverpool.
There were nervous moments in the build-up before UEFA confirmed the game could go ahead after Bayern winger Serge Gnabry tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
The rest of the Munich squad tested negative in Wednesday morning’s round of testing, but Goretzka later admitted Gnabry’s positive test was a “shock.”
Both sides had clear early chances as Luis Suarez just failed to connect with a low cross from Atletico left back Renan Lodi, while at the other end Bayern center-back Niklas Suele hit the post.
Suarez again fired wide just before Bayern took the lead.
Joshua Kimmich, who celebrated the birth of his second child the night before, won the ball, then turned and put a superb pass into the box which found Coman who fired past Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak on 29 minutes.
Coman then turned provider when the France winger darted into the area, spotted Goretzka free and the central midfielder beat Oblak to make it 2-0 at the break.
Atletico appeared to have pulled a goal back early in the second half when Joao Felix tapped home, but the VAR spotted Suarez offside in the build up.
Tolisso grabbed Bayern’s third just after the hour mark when he blasted home a thunderous strike after Kimmich’s effort had been charged down.
Coman capped a fine individual display when he twisted and turned his way past marker Felipe before deftly firing home on 77 minutes.
The 24-year-old was almost immediately substituted after helping establish a four-goal cushion with back-to-back away group games at Moscow and Salzburg in the coming weeks.