The Los Angeles Lakers have qualified for the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 after toppling the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals series.
With scores tied just before three-quarter time, the Lakers steamed ahead in the final period to secure a comfortable 117-107 victory.
LeBron James put on a masterclass in the Orlando bubble on Sunday, managing 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, his 27th triple-double in playoffs history.
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James becomes the first Lakers player to secure the 30+ points, 15+ rebounds, 10+ assists trifecta in a playoff series close-out game since James Worthy achieved the feat in 1998.
According to ESPN, the 16-time NBA All-Star now boasts the best record by a player in NBA post-season history for close-out games, with 38 wins from 48 encounters.
James is also the first player to reach the NBA Finals with five different head coaches in history.
The 35-year-old has qualified for his tenth NBA Finals appearance, becoming the fourth player ever to do so — all three others are Hall of Famers.
“One step closer to the goal. Job not done,” James said after the game.
“My shoulders is wide enough to carry a lot of load, but my mind is stronger.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said: “I feel like (James) has had a chip on his shoulder all year long … so much respect for him and love to him … to me, he has empowered this whole group.”
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Lakers forward Anthony Davis scored 27 points to go with his five rebounds and three assists, while Jerami Grant and Nikola Jokic both scored 20 points for the Nuggets.
Denver’s Jamal Murray entered the match averaging 32.7 points per game in elimination games, but finished with only 19 points after suffering an injury.
The Lakers will come up against either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, pursuing their 17th NBA title.
Incredibly, 17 of the 21 NBA Finals since 2000 have featured either LeBron James or the Los Angeles Lakers.
Originally published as LeBron goes berserk in 22-year first