Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors in game 6 in Crypto Arena in Los Angeles. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis LA Sentinel)

The Lakers took out the defending champion Warriors in six games with a final score of  122-101 in the NBA Western Conference simi-finals, perhaps ending a dynasty in Golden State.  Since 1980, the Lakers have an interesting playoff history, having played in 22 deciding game 6s in playoff or championship games.  After tonight’s game, they are 18-4. “I’m going to use that in my pre-game speech today.  We need to be the 5th team,” Warrior’s head coach Steve Kerr said before the game.  Kerr commented that he didn’t really go by such stats, but tonight the numbers proved to be accurate; the Lakers own game 6 in postseason play.

The Lakers came out strong with a 9-2 lead, with Lebron making the first four points and controlling the game with 30 points and nine assists, and with all five starters scoring, including Anthony Davis who started out hot with nine points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter despite being knocked down in game 5 and probable for game 6.  Davis finished with 17 points and 20 rebounds.

Seven minutes into the first quarter, the Lakers went up 18-9, shooting 6-6 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. The number one defense in the league showed why they have that reputation.  The Warriors, who depend on their long-range shooting, weren’t getting their shots to fall, going 0-11, and despite getting continuous offensive rebounds early, the Lakers were the team with the hot hand in shooting the long-ball the Warriors have built their reputation on.  “A great defense is the best offense.  I just think our guys are focused,” said Laker head coach, Ham.  “The film study, the communication, the walkthroughs.  I just think everyone is working hard to make sure we stay on the same page.”

Laker head coach Darvin Ham speaks to the media before game 6 against the Warriors  (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis LA Sentinel)

While Curry had a game-high of 32, he had little help from Klay who went 3-19, and Poole, who shot 3-10 from the field.  Despite the Lakers going up 17 points, with a 27-10 lead, by the end of the first quarter, stellar play from Curry helped the Warriors close the gap to only five points at 31-26, quieting the Crypto Arena crowd with his lethal offense.

James and the Lakers controlled the game,  never allowing Golden State to take a lead, and keeping the Warriors in foul trouble while sending the Lakers to the line often.

In the 3rd quarter, the Lakers went up 76-58 when Anthony Davis scored two free throws after being fouled by Draymond Green who picked up his third foul and tech.  With 3:49 in the 3rd, the Lakers went up 81-63 and the Warriors went cold, going into the penalty with five team fouls.

Warriors’ Draymond Green speaks with reporters after losing the Western Conference semi-finals playoff series to the Lakers at Crypto Arena in L.A. (Photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

James and the Lakers shifted the momentum under a barrage of 3’s from Russell and other Lakers players.  The Warriors fought back but a normally dependable Curry didn’t have his magic when he needed it; his usually consistent shots weren’t falling. The Lakers ended the 3rd quarter up 91-77, a large tribute to head coach Ham’s stellar defensive scheme.
In the 4th, Green picked up his fifth foul and the Warriors went into foul trouble  After James went down briefly from a foul to the face from Wiggins, the Laker’s defense showed up, limiting the Warrior’s shots, rebounding, and pushing the ball upcourt scoring or getting Warrior fouls.  The Warriors struggled this season and their challenges on the road were insurmountable against such a complete team.

Kerr shared his thoughts at the post-game press conference.  “Lebron and AD are just brilliant players; they controlled the series. I thought we had our chances,” he said.  He felt the difference came down to the  Laker’s dominance, outplaying the Warriors in the key stretches of pivotal games throughout the series.

Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr speaks to the media at the game 6 press conference. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

When asked why the Warriors couldn’t get it done this year, forward, Draymond Green responded, “I wish I had that answer for you.  At the end of the day you do what you can;  you do your best and if you come up short, which is kind of rare for us, then you just come up short,” he said.  “And you figure out why, you go back to the drawing board, and you work and you do what you have to do so that next year  you have a different outcome.”   Green gave credit to the Lakers’ swarming defense as the key to their victory.

The Lakers are the first Western Conference team to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era. “Kudos to Golden State.  It was a hell of a series,” said Ham at the post-game press conference. “They’re the defending champs multiple times over for a reason. They’re a tough, tough, tough, tough team that makes you work but I’m super-duper proud of our guys.”  Ham said it was a challenging season, to say the least.  But he loves the position he and the organization. are in.  He said James and AD are the leaders of the team, not just by chatter but by example, stepping up, and playing big in the biggest of moments.

When asked his thoughts on the Denver Nuggets, “We have our work cut out for us but they have to guard us too,” said Ham.  We’re going to try and enjoy this one tonight, fill our cups back up tomorrow and be ready to go back to work on Sunday.”

The LA Lakers warm up before game 6 vs. the Golden State Warriors at Crypto Arena. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

The Lakers have a nucleus of special players.  Lebron is playing bully ball, Reaves is a spark that every team needs, and AD is a dominant force.  They will face Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.