Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

Anthony Davis had 37 points and 10 re­bounds, LeBron James added 15 points and 12 as­sists, and the Lak­ers rolled to a 126-114 vic­tory against the Nuggets on Fri­day night in Game 1 of the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Slow starters in the pre­vi­ous two rounds, the top-seeded Lak­ers put this one away in a hurry, open­ing a dou­ble-digit lead in the first half that they ex­tended in the third quar­ter.

Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-Pope scored 18 points and Dwight Howard re­joined the ro­ta­tion with 13 in a pow­er­ful re­turn to the con­fer­ence fi­nals for the Lak­ers, who hadn’t been to the NBA’s fi­nal four since win­ning their last cham­pi­onship in 2010.

The Lak­ers dropped Game 1 against both the Trail Blaz­ers and Rock­ets be­fore win­ning the next four games. The Lak­ers quickly knocked off any rust for an­other long lay­off in the bub­ble against a Nuggets team that’s had things much tougher.

Nikola Jo­kic and Ja­mal Mur­ray each scored 21 points for the Nuggets, play­ing in the con­fer­ence fi­nals for the first time since the Lak­ers beat them in 2009.

Alex Caruso con­verted a three-point play to open the sec­ond and start a 17-1 surge by the Lak­ers to start the pe­riod and make it 5339 be­fore the Nuggets made their first field goal af­ter more than five min­utes.

Heat strive to ‘stay hum­ble’

Even though the Heat lead 2-0 in their East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals series against the Celtics, All-NBA for­ward Jimmy But­ler is tak­ing noth­ing for granted go­ing into Game 3 on Satur­day night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“We haven’t done any­thing. We haven’t,” But­ler said. “We can’t get ex­cited that we’re up 2-0 be­cause as good as it is to be 2-0, it could eas­ily be 4-2 Bos­ton. So, we’re go­ing to come into the same way know­ing that we’ve got to be bet­ter and stay hum­ble about it.”

The Celtics might wel­come Gor­don Hay­ward — who hasn’t played in a month be­cause of a bad an­kle — back on Satur­day.

Gian­nis earns his sec­ond MVP

Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo’s his­toric year earned him a his­toric awards sweep. The Bucks for­ward is the NBA’s Most Valu­able Player for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son, re­ceiv­ing that award. He got the De­fen­sive Player of the Year award ear­lier in these NBA play­offs. An­te­tok­oun­mpo, 25, be­comes the third player in league his­tory to win MVP and De­fen­sive Player of the Year in the same sea­son. ✶


The Lak­ers’ Anthony Davis (37 points and 10 re­bounds) shoots over the Nuggets’ Paul Mill­sap (bot­tom front) and Nikola Jo­kic (right) dur­ing the series opener Fri­day.

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