NBA: Lakers beat Golden State in Western Conference semi-final opener
- Joel Embiid named MVP
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 117-112 in the opening game of their Western Conference semi-final.
Anthony Davis led the 17-time champions with 30 points and 23 rebounds, with LeBron James also recording a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lakers had opened a 14-point lead with less than six minutes remaining of the fourth quarter but were forced to hold off a late surge by the Warriors, with a flurry of three-pointers seeing them draw level at 112-112 with little more than a minute and a half to go.
But a D’Angelo Russell lay-up and James free throw edged the Lakers back ahead, before two further free throws from Dennis Schroder wrapped up the away win.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is on Thursday.
“We know this team – they’re the defending champions,” said Davis. “No lead is safe against them, they can get hot at any moment.
“But this is just a mindset for our team, knowing we can beat this team, it’s a confidence booster for us.
“We’ve been able to get this one in game one, but we haven’t done anything yet.”
In the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the New York Knicks levelled their series with the Miami Heat at 1-1 with a 111-105 win in game two.
Jalen Brunson scored 30 points for the Knicks, while team-mate Julius Randle made 25 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists on his return to the squad after missing the series opener with a sprained ankle.
Miami’s top scorer Jimmy Butler sat out Tuesday’s game with the same injury, with Caleb Martin leading the Heat in his place with 22 points.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid has been named the NBA’s most valuable player for the 2022-23 season.
The 29-year-old Cameroonian center picked up 73 first-place votes, with two-time MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets second with 19.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was third.
Embiid won his second consecutive NBA scoring title in the regular season, with a career-high season average of 33.1 points per game.
The six-time All-Star has missed the Sixers’ last two games with a knee ligament sprain, including Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics in the first game of their Eastern Conference semi-final.
Embiid is only the second African player to be crowned MVP, after Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1993-94 season, while it is the fifth consecutive season an international player has won the MVP trophy, which in December was renamed the Michael Jordan Trophy. (BBC)