Lakers honor Kobe, take control of series vs. Blazers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers jumped out to an apt 24-8 lead on Kobe Bryant Day and dominated the Portland Trail Blazers the rest of the way, taking a 3-1 advantage in their playoff series with a 135-115 victory Monday night.

LeBron James had 30 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes before heading to the bench late in the third quarter. The Lakers led by as many as 38 points for their third straight win in the opening-round series, the team’s first playoff appearance since 2013.

The Trail Blazers won the opener but have appeared gassed in the past two games. Damian Lillard, the MVP of the seeding games in the NBA bubble, had 11 points before leaving with a right knee injury in the third. Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Anthony Davis added 18 points in 18 minutes for the Lakers before leaving the game midway through the third with back spasms.

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The Lakers, the top seed in the Western Conference, can close out the series on Wednesday.

It was considered “Kobe Day” because Monday was 8/24, the two numbers Kobe Bryant wore during his 20-year career.

BUCKS 121, MAGIC 106

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, Khris Middleton finally came alive with a huge fourth quarter Milwaukee beat Orlando to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Middleton scored 18 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 rebounds after being held to one field goal in the first three quarters on 1-of-9 shooting.

Wesley Matthews added 12 points for the Bucks, who can close out the Magic on Wednesday.

Nikola Vucevic continued his strong play for the Magic, finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Terrence Ross had 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Milwaukee has now won three straight after losing the series opener to the eighth-seeded Magic.

The top-seeded Bucks led by three entering the fourth quarter before Middleton came alive.

THUNDER 117, ROCKETS 114

Dennis Schroder scored a career playoff-high 30 points, and Oklahoma City rallied to beat Houston and even the first-round Western Conference playoff series at two wins apiece.

Oklahoma City trailed by 15 points in the third quarter and was down a point heading into the fourth.

Chris Paul scored 26 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, who won despite allowing 23 3-pointers.

James Harden had 32 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds for Houston. Eric Gordon scored 23 points and Danuel House Jr. added 21 for the Rockets.

Former Thunder star Russell Westbrook sat out for Houston again with a strained right quad.

HEAT 99, PACERS 87

Goran Dragic scored 23 points and fifth-seeded Miami completed a first-round sweep of Indiana.

Tyler Herro had 16 points and Bam Adebayo added 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Heat, who made it out of the first round for the first time since 2016.

Victor Oladipo had 25 points and Myles Turner added 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who have dropped four straight postseason series to the Heat since 2012.

Miami’s bench outscored Indiana’s depleted reserves 38-3.

Heat guard Jimmy Butler left the game in the first quarter with a left shoulder strain. He returned after halftime and finished with six points in 23 minutes.

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