Kobe, Lakers Advance to Round 2

  • April 28, 2009, 12:22 AM

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are moving on in the NBA playoffs — as if that was really in doubt.

With Bryant making everything from 3-pointers to a fadeaway jumper while falling on his backside, the Lakers ran away from the Utah Jazz on Monday night, winning 107-96 to finish the opening-round series in five games.

Bryant scored 31 points and Lamar Odom had 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who earned several days of rest before meeting the winner of the Portland-Houston series.

The Lakers didn't want to have to go back to Salt Lake City, the site of their Game 3 collapse and their Game 4 bounceback.

Although it wasn't the most artistic game at times, the Lakers got the shots to fall when they needed them most.

If there was any question that this was going to be the Lakers' night on their home court, Bryant answered that in the closing seconds of the first half.

He drove the lane and passed to Pau Gasol. The ball was batted loose and Bryant grabbed it, turned and sank a fadeaway jumper as he fell on his rear end, giving the Lakers a 56-43 halftime lead.

By late in the third quarter, the Lakers were toying with the Jazz. Bryant made a layup, hit a 3-pointer and fed Gasol for a slam dunk. Odom added a bucket and just like that it was 80-58.

The crowd spent the ensuing timeout cheering the celebrities shown on the big screen at Staples Center — John McEnroe, Dustin Hoffman, Glenn Frey and, of course, Jack Nicholson.

The Jazz cut the lead to 93-86 with 4:37 left but Bryant hit a turnaround jumper and Odom finished a fast break with a slam dunk to fend off Utah's late run.

Paul Millsap led Utah with 16 points while Andrei Kirilenko and Deron Williams had 14 apiece.

Gasol had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Trevor Ariza 12 points for the Lakers.

The Lakers weren't particularly sharp in the first quarter, and the Jazz held on for a 26-all tie.

But when the Jazz took out Williams starting the second quarter, the Lakers went on an 8-0 that put them ahead for good. Odom and Bryant each hit a 3-pointer and Bryant made two free throws for a 34-26 lead.

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