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Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Playoffs 2020: LeBron James dominant as Los Angeles Lakers book place in Western Conference Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2010 after blowing out the Houston Rockets in game 5, 119-96.

For the second consecutive series, the Lakers responded from a game 1 loss to rattle off four consecutive wins and advance.

Here are the takeaways from an impressive Los Angeles performance.

LAKERS TRANSITION BARRAGE DESTORYS ROCKETS

When Alex Caruso drove to the basket to finish on an Anthony Davis assist, the Lakers had rattled off a 33-11 run in the first 8:58 of the game. LeBron James had 11 of those points, stamping his authority on game 5 inside and out as the Los Angeles looked to put an early nail in the Rockets' coffin.

Houston would respond to cut the deficit to 11 at the half, trailing 61-50, but it was in transition where the Lakers held their dominance.

Leading the fast break points count 15-2 through 24 minutes, the Lakers had near on matched their playoff average of 15.3 per game.

James was particularly dominant in the first half, posting 19 points, five rebounds and six assists, while the Lakers went 9-for-18 (50 percent) from beyond the arc.

The only blight on a statement half for the Lakers was 13 turnovers, contributing to 15 Houston points to keep them in the game.

The scary part?

Anthony Davis had just six of the Lakers 62 points at the half on just two shot attempts.

The Lakers would cut their turnovers to just six in the second half and the Rockets never threatened.

LEBRON DOMINANT FROM START TO FINISH

LeBron James was not interested in coming back for a game 6.

On top of the above mentioned 19-point first half, James physically dominated the Rockets on both ends and claimed a little history in the process.

Finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in just 30 minutes of court time, James joined Oscar Robertson as the only player to top 250 points, 100 rebounds and 80 assists in the first ten games of any postseason.

He also added two steals and a block while connecting on three triples for good measure.

LeBron James is locked in and that's going to be a problem for the LA Clippers or Denver Nuggets when they meet him in the WCF.

WESTBROOK'S TOUGH BUBBLE RUN CONTINUES

Former MVP Russell Westbrook's struggles in the bubble continued with another rough shooting night in game 5.

Westbrook finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting from the floor, as he again failed to have the impact he had prior to the stoppage.

It's been an interrupted return for Russ, first battling coronavirus before then suffering a quad injury that left him sidelined for much of the Rockets' first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Overall, Westbrook finished the series averaging 19.8 points on 39-for-93 (41.9 percent) shooting, as the Lakers were able to continually force him into outside shots.

The first year of the Harden-Westbrook tandem ends prematurely, and we'll wait to see what's next for the Rockets franchise in what could be a shortened offseason.

LAKERS FIND THE RANGE

The Lakers 3-point shooting or supposed lack thereof has been a topic of conversation all season long.

Despite that, the numbers don't lie: When the Lakers get hot from three they are almost impossible to beat.

Coming into game 5 the Lakers were 19-1 during the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs when they shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc - the lone loss came to the Sacramento Kings in the final regular season game with James playing just 14 minutes and Davis out of the lineup.

In game 5, they connected on a franchise playoff record 19 triples on 19-for-37 shooting (51.4 percent).

If the Lakers are to advance to the NBA Finals, they will likely need strong offensive contributions from the support cast and it came in droves in game 5. Markieff Morris (4-for-4), Danny Green (4-for-6), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2-for-3) and Kyle Kuzma (3-for-6) cashed in from 3-point territory, as they were repeatedly given open looks as James and Davis continued to make the correct reads out of double-teams.

Prior to tonight, the Lakers as a team ranked 13th out of the 16 playoff teams at just 34 percent from three, slightly down from the 34.9 percent they knocked down during the regular season which ranked 21st league wide.

Playoff success can be as simple as getting hot at the right time, and if the Lakers supporting cast can have more performances like they did in game 5....they will be very hard to stop.

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