An inspired LeBron James sent the Los Angeles Lakers into the Western Conference finals and eliminated 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 play top seeds the Denver Nuggets in the series to decide who plays in the NBA Finals.
The Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks to reach the Eastern Conference finals.
Jimmy Buttler scored 24 points and eight rebounds as the Heat won 96-92 in Florida to take the series 4-2 and become the first eighth seed in 24 years to reach the Conference finals.
They will play the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers, who are tied at 3-3 and play their decisive seventh game on Sunday.
The Lakers made their worst start to a regular season for 65 years but remain in contention for a 20th Conference title and 18th championship win after closing out a big win over a Golden State Warriors side that has won four of the past eight NBA titles.
They were undone by James’ masterful performance in California, with the NBA’s leading all-time points scorer and four-time NBA champion making nine assists and nine rebounds to go with his 30 points.
Anthony Davis, playing despite a head injury from game five, chalked up 17 points and 20 rebounds, as the Lakers romped to victory.
After the game James embraced Warriors star Stephen Curry, who scored 32 points in defeat.
“Not many of our team have been in close-out games,” James said.
“So after game five up [a 121-106 defeat on Wednesday], I knew I had to come in with a lot of aggression but be efficient and strategic in how I played this game.”
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