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Lakers advance to another final

Justin Marville

Lakers advance to another final

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No George Haynes.
No Jeff Trotman. No Rommel Garnes.
Sonics similarly had no hope of upsetting the champs.
There’s just no keeping Lumber Company Lakers out of basketball’s Premier League finals either, as the champs survived yet another big game from Akeem Marsh before pulling off Tuesday’s series-clinching 75-61 Game 3 victory over Roll-A-Way St John’s Sonics at the Wildey Gym.
It was just the latest evidence supporting Lakers as the sport’s model of consistency, with the win booking the reigning three-time kings’ third straight finals appearance, and their sixth in seven years.
The result seemed but a mere formality, too, once Sonics were forced to take the floor without the overseas-bound Haynes and injured guards Trotman and Garnes.
Sonics then all but mailed it in over the middle quarters while surrendering an initial 16-2 run – and every single offensive rebound possible – before falling behind by as many 26 points (51-25) in one dreadful run of futility.
But Marsh proved the customary thorn in Lakers’ side again, almost rallying Sonics with a 12-point third-quarter outburst that was aided by an Adrian Allman ejection, which spurred an 11-0 Sonics’ reply (51-36).
Sonics, and Marsh, weren’t done just yet either, as they actually got within single digits (62-53) early in the fourth following a barrage of treys from the 6’ 9” linchpin and Stefan Clarke.
However, it was the total extent of Sonics fight once Andre Boadu ended the rally with a tough jump hook and Ricardo Jemmott and Mark Bridgeman followed up with a run of four points.
Marsh’s subsequent fifth and final foul proved the final nail in Sonics’ coffin before Bridgeman drove home the final point with a long jumper.
It capped the expected rout that was long in coming when Sonics failed to turn up for a second quarter, which Lakers started on a 16-2 rampage to blow open a 30-18 cushion.
The surge actually started minutes earlier towards the end of the prior period when Andre Lockhart scored four of seven unanswered Lakers points before Keefe Birkett came off the bench for three quick baskets to put the champs up by 12.
So lacklustre was Sonics effort that Birkett even rebounded one of his few misses near the free throw line while Marsh was being forced to catch the ball miles away from the hoop.
The lead ballooned to 17 (40-23) at the half until Sonics meekly ceded a series of uncontested lay-ups and Lockhart’s and-one bucket in an 11-2 start to the third quarter.
But Allman was ejected following an outburst over a no-call, leading to St John’s rattling off the next 11 points unanswered to spark an unlikely rally.
Birkett finished with 15 points for Lakers, who await the winner of tonight’s Game 3 between Cavs and Warrens in the title series starting Saturday.
Jemmott and Lockhart added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Lakers while Marsh led all scorers with 28 points and ten rebounds. Stefan Clarke was the only other Sonic in double digits, with 11 points.