LEBRON James scored a team-high 36 points and became the all-time leader in NBA postseason wins as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed a 112-102 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday near Orlando.
The Lakers will take a 2-1 lead into Game 4 of the best-of-seven series on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Los Angeles’ Anthony Davis added 26 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo keyed a fourth-quarter run after the teams entered the final period tied.
James earned his 162nd career playoff victory, topping the mark set by Derek Fisher.
“It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teams,” James said postgame on TNT. “It says that I’ve played with a lot of great teammates and some great coaches, in Cleveland, in Miami and now here in Los Angeles. . .
“It doesn’t happen without the supporting cast. It’s why I’m able to sit here with this achievement, but it’s all about the three organizations I’ve been with, the Cavs, the Heat and now the Lakers, because without them, I wouldn’t be in this position.”
James Harden paced the Rockets with 33 points, nine rebounds and nine assists while Russell Westbrook rebounded from a rocky Game 2 with 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists. But the Rockets were without reserve forward Danuel House Jr. (personal reasons), and the Lakers finished with a 42-16 advantage in bench points.
In the other game, Jimmy Butler totaled 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the fifth-seeded Miami Heat used stingy defense to knock the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks out of the playoffs with a 103-94 Game 5 victory.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and favorite to repeat as league MVP, did not play Tuesday after aggravating his sprained right ankle in the first half of Sunday’s Game 4.
Miami awaits the winner of the other Eastern Conference semifinal series between second-seeded Toronto and third-seeded Boston. The Celtics lead 3-2 ahead of Wednesday’s (Thursday in Manila) Game 6.