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LeBron James says Lakers have 'bigger fish to fry' after beating Nuggets to reach NBA Finals

LeBron James embraces Denver guard Jamal Murray after the Lakers eliminated the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals 1:12
LeBron James said the Lakers will enjoy being crowned Western Conference champions but added there is a bigger goal for the team this season

LeBron James said the Los Angeles Lakers have "bigger fish to fry" after leading his team to a series-sealing win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

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James wore out the path to the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference, making annual trips out of Miami and Cleveland. Now he is the best in the West.

And for the first time in a decade, so are the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James directs the Lakers' offense in their Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets 2:00
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James scored 38 points and added 16 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

James punctuated his 27th postseason triple-double with a big fourth quarter, powering the Lakers to a 117-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals in five games.

James finished with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to become the fourth player to reach 10 NBA Finals. It took him two seasons to make it with the Lakers, after falling short of the playoffs in an injury-plagued first season following eight consecutive trips with Miami and Cleveland.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 0:13
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James closed out the Western Conference Finals with this clutch triple during Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets

"My team-mates said, 'bring us home', and it's my responsibility to try to make the right plays and do the right things out on the floor to help us win ball games. We have a few guys on our team who haven't been to the Finals before so we took that responsibility as well," James said after the Lakers were presented with the Western Conference Finals trophy.

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"My shoulders are wide enough to a lot of load but my mind is stronger. I always keep my mind strong and I'm happy to be in this position.

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"There are only two teams that can advance to the Finals each year. Pretty much 30 players who advance (to the Finals) every year. We are going to enjoy it tonight but we understand we have got bigger fish to fry. We understand there is a bigger goal but we can't take this for granted because it doesn't happen every year for anybody."

The Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after winning Game Five of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets on September 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at AdventHealth Arena. 5:42
Watch all the reaction after the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned 2019-20 Western Conference champions

Speaking to reporters after the game he added: "For me personally the job is not done. For us as a franchise, I'm extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs and that's playing for championships and competing for championships, representing the Western Conference this year in the championships. This is what I came here for."

 Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Denver Nuggets during Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs on September 26, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. 0:11
LeBron James fired a full-court pass to set up Anthony Davis for an easy score during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

The Lakers will face either Miami or Boston in their 32nd NBA Finals appearance, the most in league history. They haven't played for the title since beating the Celtics in 2010 for the last of their 16 championships and hadn't even made the postseason in the last six seasons.

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the game against the Denver Nuggets during Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs on September 26, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. 1:57
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis was in fine form during their win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, scoring 27 points

Anthony Davis added 27 points and will end his first season with Los Angeles by playing in his first NBA Finals.

"We battled through a lot this year starting with the beginning of the season and we know the job is not done," Davis said during the trophy presentation. "It's a great feeling but we have got four more to win."

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The Nuggets have made comebacks their signature during a postseason run that has seen them recover from 3-1 down in the first two playoff rounds. They fell far behind one more time in Game 5 but James wouldn't allow another comeback. He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 0:13
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James closed out the Western Conference Finals with this clutch triple during Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets

James made consecutive baskets while getting fouled early in the fourth, pushing a two-point lead to 95-88. When Denver made one last push to cut it to four, James set up Danny Green for a three-pointer for his 10th assist, then made a jumper himself to extend it to 108-99.

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"I don't know if I've ever witnessed a guy take over a game the way he did in the fourth quarter tonight in person," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

Denver coach Michael Malone noted the difference in experience between his young team and James, who tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for third all-time with his 10 Finals appearances.

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"We were playing against a guy who this is routine for him and so we take some solace in that," Malone said, "and my challenge to our group is that we'll be back."

Only Celtics Hall of Famers Bill Russell, with 12, and Sam Jones with 11 have reached more NBA Finals than James.

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