Lakers rout Warriors to lead NBA playoffs series 2-1
LeBron James's slow start mattered little as the Los Angeles Lakers thumped defending champions Golden State 127-97 to take a 2-1 lead in their NBA Western Conference semi-final series.
Centre Anthony Davis had 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers while James finished with 21 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in Saturday night's win before home fans.
D'Angelo Russell hit five 3-pointers while scoring 21 points for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who remained unbeaten at home in the postseason with a strong defensive effort.
James didn't take a shot in the first quarter for the first time in his NBA-record 275 playoff appearances, but he warmed up in time to lead several runs in the second and third quarters while Los Angeles pulled away.
"After that first quarter, guys just really turned it up," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. "They dialed up their competitiveness, and their communication was great. ... We were just playing a really physical, forceful downhill game."
Stephen Curry scored 23 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 in a collective stinker for the Warriors, who committed 19 turnovers and never mounted a response to the Lakers on either end in the second half.
Golden State went 13 for 44 on 3-pointers - making just 10 while the game was still competitive - after hitting 21 in each of the series' first two games in San Francisco.
Game 4 is Monday night in Los Angeles.
Davis had an impressive bounce-back game under both baskets after contributing minimally in Game 2, blocking four shots and leading the Lakers' latest strong defensive effort.
The Lakers have built their 16-5 run since March 17 on defence, and the Warriors couldn't hit enough shots from the perimeter to counteract their disadvantages in size and athleticism.
Klay Thompson had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, but the rest of the roster beyond their top three scorers struggled mightily, combining for just 18 points before coach Steve Kerr pulled his starters with 9:11 to play.
The rivals split two games in San Francisco to open the series, with the Warriors earning a 27-point blowout victory in Game 2 after dropping the opener.
But this much-anticipated playoff rematch between generational superstars James and Curry has featured more garbage time than memorable thrills in the past two games.
After Ham sat down his stars before the fourth quarter of Game 2, Kerr pulled the plug while facing a 26-point deficit early in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
James began Game 3 making a clear effort to be a playmaker, but he didn't even take his first shot until 8:02 remained in the first half.
He hit a free throw for his first point with 6:32 left, and he subsequently led a rally that pushed the Lakers in front to stay.
In Miami, Jimmy Butler returned from his sprained ankle to score 28 points as the Miami Heat topped the New York Knicks 105-86 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.
Max Strus added 19 points and Bam Adebayo clocked 17 points and 12 rebounds for Miami in a game in which the Heat never trailed and New York scored their second-fewest points of the season.