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JUST-IN: LA Lakers crush Miami Heat to claim 17th NBA title

A Los Angeles Lakers team led by superstar LeBron James dominated the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday to win a record-equalling 17th NBA championship but their first in a decade.

James added another chapter to an epic career, fueling the Lakers with a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and capturing his fourth NBA title with a third different team, as well as earning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honors for a fourth time.

“It means a lot to represent this franchise,” James said, recalling that he told team owner Jeanie Buss when he arrived in Los Angeles in 2018, “I wanted to put this franchise back where it belongs.

“For me to be a part of such a historical franchise is an unbelievable feeling.”

Anthony Davis, playing in his first championship series after years of frustration in New Orleans, added 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-two triumph in the best-of-seven championship series more than eight months after the death in a helicopter crash of team legend Kobe Bryant – who led the Lakers to their last title in 2010.

The Lakers out-hustled, out-muscled and out-played Miami, the Heat, making sure it wouldn’t come down to any last-gasp effort as it did when they were denied in game five on Friday.

Los Angeles had blown it open by halftime, their 36 second-quarter points equalling the Heat’s entire first half total as the Lakers took a 64-36 lead into the break.

Four Lakers players had scored in double-figures by halftime.

Rajon Rondo was a perfect six-for-six from the floor in the first half as the Lakers built the second-largest halftime lead in NBA Finals history.

Rondo, who won a title with the Celtics in 2008, scored 19 points off the bench. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 17 and Danny Green scored 11 and the Lakers pulled level with the Boston Celtics for most titles all-time.

The Heat, who had stunned the Lakers on Friday on the back of Jimmy Butler’s gritty triple-double, couldn’t produce another miracle in the face of Los Angeles’ stifling defense.

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Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Butler and Jae Crowder added 12 apiece, but Miami simply had no answer for the knockout blow Los Angeles delivered in the first half.

The series in the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, capped not only an emotional season for the Lakers with the loss of talisman Bryant but a season of uncertainty and upheaval for the NBA as players grappled with the coronavirus pandemic and the demands for social and racial justice sweeping across the United States.

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