LeBron, dominant Lakers rout Rockets to advance

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A one-year break for LeBron James and a nine-year hiatus for his franchise came to an end on Saturday: James and the Los Angeles Lakers are back in the conference finals.

James poured in 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 7 assists in the Lakers’ 119-96 Game 5 victory over the Houston Rockets, storming back to take the Western Conference semifinals series 4-1 after Houston upset L.A. in Game 1.

The Lakers’ star improved to 37-10 in closeout opportunities, extending his streak to five consecutive wins in that situation. And L.A. snapped the longest cold spell in team history without making it to the round that determines a berth in the NBA Finals.

L.A. missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season last year in James’ maiden season with the Lakers — ending his personal run of eight straight Finals appearances and 14 straight postseason nods — but Year 2, teamed up with Anthony Davis and a cast of tested veterans, has been a different story.

“I know what my name, my stature, and what I’ve done in this league comes with whenever I decide to join a franchise,” said James, who registered his 133rd 25-5-5 game in the postseason since 2006, which leads the league. His closest competition in that span is Russell Westbrook with 42. “I know what my name comes with. And it comes with winning. I take that responsibility to the utmost [more] than anything. …

“I understand the Laker faithful and what they felt or maybe were going through over the, I want to say the last decade, of not being in the postseason, not competing for championships or whatever the case may be. I took

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