NBA

Bryant's 35 points leads Lakers over Jazz

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The Canadian Press
5/9/2010 1:47:50 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY -- After winning the first two games by dominating inside, the Los Angeles Lakers went outside in Game 3 and took a 3-0 series lead on the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference playoffs.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher hit back-to-back three-pointers during an 8-2 run in the final minute and the Lakers held on for a 111-110 victory over Utah Jazz on Saturday that put Los Angeles on the verge of a sweep.

The Lakers outlasted the Jazz in a frenzied fourth quarter, which included 12 lead changes before Utah's final attempt bounced off the rim in the final second.

"It was fun basketball to watch, I'm sure," said Bryant, who scored 35 to lead the Lakers. "Guys just coming down making big shot after big shot, and big play after big play. It was certainly fun to be a part of."

From the Lakers' perspective, it was a blast. They never led by more than four, but stayed close enough to win it in the final minute and steal away Utah's first home game of the series.

The Jazz had two chances to win it in the final four seconds, but Deron Williams missed from the top of the key and Wesley Matthews' tip just before the buzzer also missed.

"It's a tough loss, period. We were again in the game and had a chance to win the game and things aren't going our way," Williams said.

Williams had 28 points and nine assists and Kyle Korver added a career playoff-high 23 points for the Jazz, making all five of his three-point attempts.

Fisher finished with 20 points and Pau Gasol added 14 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles, which can close out the four-game sweep with a win Monday night in Game 4.

Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom used their size advantage to lead the Lakers to wins in the first two games, but the Jazz were able to control more of the lane Saturday. Bynum didn't score at all and Odom finished with eight points and eight rebounds.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan said the Jazz's effort to keep the Lakers out of the middle opened up some three-point shots and Los Angeles capitalized.

"We felt like that was the chance to stay in the ballgame," Sloan said. "That right there probably got us."

Both teams scored 32 in the paint and the Lakers were able to break the tie from outside. Ron Artest scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for the Lakers, breaking out of a three-point slump by shooting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.

"It's all about momentum," Bryant said. "We had been given good opportunities. It was just a matter of them falling, and the shots starting falling at the right time."

Bryant's three-pointer with 54 seconds left tied it at 106. After a jumper by Williams, Fisher hit another from beyond the arc to put the Lakers up 109-108 with 28.6 seconds left.

"He played a great game tonight," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He made some shots and made some defensive plays. Just his tenacity is a factor for us."

Carlos Boozer, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds, missed a putback attempt and the Jazz had to foul Bryant, who hit both free throws for a 111-108 lead with 7.8 seconds left. Williams drew a foul with 6.1 seconds and made both from the line to cut it to 111-110.

The Lakers couldn't inbound the ball and called timeout. They tried again, but Fisher fell before he could get the pass from Artest, and Korver grabbed the loose ball and called timeout with 4.4 seconds left.

After the timeout, Williams' shot from the top of the key bounced off the rim. There was still enough time for Matthews to get a hand on the rebound, but his tip also bounced off and the Lakers leaped off the bench to celebrate.

"It felt like it was just kind of a slugfest," Korver said. "Whoever was going to miss first lost. We got the ball back, just didn't quite pull it off."

This is the third straight playoffs the Lakers have played the Jazz, and Los Angeles had lost Game 3 in Utah each of the previous two.

Andrei Kirilenko returned from more than a month out with a strained left calf and had eight points and six rebounds. Paul Millsap added 13 points for Utah.

NOTES: The Jazz shot 11 for 18 in the second quarter. ... Bryant had 20 points at halftime -- four more than the rest of the Lakers' starters combined. ... Bryant scored the Lakers' first nine points. ... Gasol had 10 points in the period after scoring just four in the first half. ... Korver's previous playoff high was 14 against the Lakers two years ago. ... Kirilenko got a standing ovation when he entered with 6:54 left in the first.

Matthews covers Bryant (Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
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