An inspired LeBron James sent the Los Angeles Lakers to the Western Conference Finals and knocked out the 2022 NBA winners, the Golden State Warriors.
The 38-year-old scored 30 points as the Lakers won 122-101 in Los Angeles to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-2.
The Lakers, who finished seventh in the regular season, will face the top-seeded Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, starting Tuesday.
The Miami Heat defeated the New York Knicks to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
Jimmy Buttler scored 24 points and eight rebounds as the Heat won 96-92 at Florida to win the series 4-2 and become the first eighth seed in 24 years to reach the Conference Finals.
They will face either the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers, who are tied 3-3 and will play their deciding seventh game on Sunday.
Lakers extend season that started slowly
The Lakers got off to their worst start to the regular season in 65 years but remain in contention for a 20th conference title and 18th championship win after picking up a big victory over a Golden State Warriors team that has won four of the last eight. NBA titles.
They were undone by James’ masterful performance in California, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and four-time NBA champion contributing nine assists and nine rebounds to go along with his 30 points.
Anthony Davis, playing through a head injury in Game 5, scored 17 points and 20 rebounds as the Lakers battled to victory.
After the game, James hugged Warriors star Stephen Curry, who scored 32 points in the loss.
“Not many of our team have been in closing games,” James said.
“So after the fifth game [a 121-106 defeat on Wednesday]I knew I had to arrive with a lot of aggression, but be efficient and strategic in the way I played this match.