Lakers Push Jazz to Brink of Elimination

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Kobe Bryant followed his worst shooting game in years by scoring 38 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 108-94 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night and a 3-1 series advantage.

Bryant, who was 16-for-24, scored Los Angeles' first 11 points and once his teammates joined in, the Lakers overwhelmed the Jazz and moved within one game of advancing to the second round.

Lamar Odom had 10 points and 15 rebounds and Pau Gasol added 13
points for the Lakers, who host Game 5 on Monday night.

Deron Williams had 23 points and 13 assists and Carlos Boozer also scored 23 and pulled down 16 rebounds for Utah.

The Jazz won Game 3 on Thursday, holding Bryant to a 5-for-24 shooting night and 18 points.

That got Utah within 2-1 in the series, but also stirred Bryant and the Jazz paid for it Saturday.

The Lakers staggered the Jazz with 40 points in the second quarter, then completed the knockout in the third with defense, holding Utah to just 16 points. The Jazz hurt themselves by going 2-for-6 from the foul line and were outrebounded 15-8 and the Lakers stretched the lead to 19.

Utah got within five twice early in the third, then Bryant and the Lakers smothered the comeback. Bryant scored six during an 8-2 run, hitting two jumpers and adding two free throws to put the Lakers up 72-61 with 7:54 left in the period. The Jazz missed from outside and never were able to establish much in the lane. When the Jazz did get inside, they missed and didn't get the foul calls they wanted.

Shannon Brown's two free throws with 25 seconds left gave the Lakers an 88-69 lead at the end of three, giving Utah's usually-rowdy fans little to cheer in the fourth.

The Lakers first silenced the crowd in the second period, making 12 of their first 18 shots and finished the period 14-for-20, outscoring the Jazz 40-28 while taking a 60-53 halftime lead.

Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Brown made consecutive 3-pointers
for the Lakers during a 9-2 spurt that put Los Angeles ahead 36-34 while Bryant rested on the bench. Bryant returned with 7:02 left in
the second and led the Lakers on a 7-2 run, slipping in a reverse layup after a turnover to put the Lakers ahead 43-36 and prompting a timeout by Utah with 5:10 left.

Utah managed to cut it to 60-53 at halftime. Williams made two foul shots with 3.9 seconds left, then Boozer tipped Walton's long inbounds pass back to Williams, who drove for a layup and drew a foul on Walton with 0.2 seconds left. Williams made the free throw and the Lakers' lead was down to seven points after standing at 12 just four seconds earlier.

Center Mehmet Okur returned for Utah in his first game since straining his right hamstring April 13 and was obviously rusty after the layoff, finishing with two rebounds and no points.

Notes:

Bryant was 6-for-8 in first quarter, scoring 13 to keep the Lakers close.

Fisher was the first Laker other than Bryant to score, hitting a 20-footer with 4:54 left in the first quarter.

Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and Kyle Korver scored 12 for Utah.


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