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Lakers rout Warriors, Heat rip Knicks to grab NBA series leads

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers defends Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during the game during the Western Conference Semi Finals during the 2023 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Noah Graham / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

Anthony Davis scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while LeBron James added 21 points to power the Los Angeles Lakers over Golden State 127-97 on Saturday in the NBA playoffs.

The Lakers grabbed a 2-1 lead over the defending champion Warriors in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with game four on Monday at Los Angeles.

Davis made 7-of-10 shots from the floor and 11-of-12 from the free throw line while adding four blocks, three assists, and three steals and dominating defensively.

James, who went the first 13 minutes without shooting, added eight assists and eight rebounds and D’Angelo Russell scored all 21 of his points in the first half for the host Lakers.

In the Eastern Conference, Jimmy Butler returned from an ankle injury to score 28 points in leading host Miami over the New York Knicks 105-86, giving the Heat a 2-1 in the matchup with game four Monday in Miami.

“It feels good to get a dub (W) on our home floor in front of our fans,” Butler said. “We’re going to take that and roll with it.”

At Los Angeles, an 18-4 run to end the first quarter gave the Warriors a 30-23 lead, with James not taking a shot in the first quarter of a playoff game for the first time in his career.

But after falling behind 40-29, the Lakers answered with a 30-8 run in the final 7:22 of the second quarter for a 59-48 halftime lead.

“As a group we wasn’t shooting the ball well. We locked up defensively and got easy ones,” Russell said.

The Lakers stretched the lead as large as 20 points in the third quarter, entered the fourth ahead 86-68 and cruised from there.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 23 points while Andrew Wiggins added 16 and Klay Thompson had 15.

Butler boosts Miami

Butler missed Miami’s loss Tuesday after suffering the injury in the series opener, but helped the Heat lead from start-to-finish after dazzling in a first-round ouster of NBA wins leader Milwaukee.

“I’m comfortable, I’m confident and I work extremely hard at my craft,” Butler said.

“My teammates have got a lot to do with that. They always make sure I’m catching the ball in spots where I’m comfortable and letting me be aggressive.”

Max Strus added 19 points for Miami while Bam Adebayo added 17 points and 12 rebounds and Kyle Lowry had 14 points.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Butler’s return infused his teammates with confidence.

“You can’t put an analytic to it. It’s just the overall confidence level your team has — that you can always get the ball to him and know that we’ll get something efficient and coherent,” Spoelstra said of Butler.

“We have a bunch of guys stepping up. We’re more dangerous when a lot of guys are putting their fingerprints on the win at both ends of the court.

“But you need a guy like Jimmy when you’re playing against a good team like this.”

Jalen Brunson led New York with 20 points as the Knicks were outmuscled by a combative Miami lineup that outscored their opponents in all four quarters.

New York’s problems were compounded by a dismal shooting performance, with the Knicks making just 31-of-91 from the field.

“The start of the game we got back on our heels, their aggressiveness … we couldn’t get stops early, so we didn’t get any easy buckets, so we paid the price,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

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