Any way to change this to a best-of-five series?
The Lakers continued to get the best of the Utah Jazz, turning a Western Conference rivalry into a playground version of sixth-graders against fourth-graders, the latest after-school scuffle transitioning into a 111-103 victory Tuesday at Staples Center.
It wasn't easy -- nothing seems to be for the Lakers in these playoffs -- but they took a 2-0 lead over the Jazz in the conference semifinals.
The numbers are getting overwhelming, the Lakers now two victories from eliminating the Jazz for a third consecutive season while moving to 20-6 against Utah over the last few years, including playoffs.
Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom brushed off recent injuries on the way to double-doubles, and Kobe Bryant almost had one too, but before the Lakers pat themselves on the back, they have plenty to study before Game 3 on Saturday in Utah.
They gave away most of a 15-point lead, committed 20 turnovers, made four of 17 three-point attempts (23.5%) and failed to coast despite double-doubles by three players.
Only when Odom found Ron Artest with a long lead pass for a dunk could Lakers fans begin celebrating in earnest, their team ahead by eight with 28.3 seconds to play.
"Somehow, we managed to win that game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said, sighing a couple of times at his postgame news conference.
Then again, the Lakers have won 16 consecutive games against the Jazz at Staples Center. The outcome might be the next thing to a foregone conclusion.
Bynum had a double-double in the first half and finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds despite playing with a slight cartilage tear in his right knee.
Odom ignored a slightly sprained right knee and ended his string of mostly unremarkable playoff games with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
"It's still a little swollen," Bynum said of his knee. "But I have three nice rest days."
Bryant finished with 30 points and eight assists, almost joining Bynum, Odom and Pau Gasol (22 points, 15 rebounds) in double-double territory.
Utah again went without two starters -- center Mehmet Okur and forward Andrei Kirilenko -- but the Lakers again couldn't extend a lead. They led by 15 early in the third quarter, but it was trimmed to 98-94 on a layup by C.J. Miles with 5:01 to play.
Bryant took over from there, making a long two-pointer to beat the shot clock, and quickly following it with a reverse dunk to put the Lakers ahead, 107-96, with 2:07 to play.
The first half was all about Bynum, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers took a 58-46 lead.
On one play, he elevated over Kyrylo Fesenko for a dunk and, instead of wincing, looked to see if a foul would be called, raising his arms.
In other words, he seemed just fine.
"We had some great play tonight from our big guys," Jackson said.
The problem was the Lakers' second-half defense ... and their turnovers.
The Jazz outscored the Lakers after halftime, 57-53, forcing them into 11 turnovers. Bryant finished with seven, Gasol had six.
"If we're not smart with the basketball, we turn the basketball over, they get run-outs, so they think they have the opportunity to beat us," Bynum said.
It's just enough to give the Lakers something to do during their long pause between Games 2 and 3.
Extending their dominance over the Jazz might take some extra work.
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