Time is running out for LeBron James to add to his collection of NBA championship rings and chase down Michael Jordan in the “greatest of all time” debate.
James and the Los Angeles have been bundled out of the NBA Playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 in Game Six at the Staples Centre to claim the first-round series four games to two.
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It’s the first time in 15 attempts a team featuring LeBron James has been knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs.
The four-time NBA champion, 36, is racing against time to catch Jordan’s tally of six titles but he will have to wait another year to contend for a championship.
A wounded Anthony Davis bravely took to the court for LA but lasted barely five minutes before aggravating a groin injury he suffered earlier in the series while contesting a rebound. He sat out the remainder of the game.
The Lakers struggled after Anthony Davis went down with injury. Harry How/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP
The Suns developed a huge lead in the second quarter before the Lakers staged a minor comeback in the second half. But an unlikely LA victory always looked out of reach.
James was solid with 29 points, but the Lakers were facing an uphill battle without star centre Davis on the court.
The Lakers are only the fifth defending NBA champions to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and the first since the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.
Interestingly, both NBA finalists from last year’s playoff bubble, the Lakers and the Miami Heat, have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Devin Booker was outstanding for the Phoenix Suns. Harry How/Getty ImagesSource:AFP
Devin Booker starred for the Suns with 47 points, while veteran Chris Paul was superb in the key moments with 12 assists and eight points.
Booker said he was happy to have made it through a tough first-round match-up
“That’s the only way we wanted it to be honest,” he said of drawing the Lakers in the first round.
“We knew we weren’t going to get to where we wanted to go without going through them, and it happened to be in the first round.”
It’s the first playoff series win for Phoenix since 2010. The Suns will face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.
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