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Lakers sweep way into Western Conference finals

Kobe Bryant scores 32 points on 11-for-23 shooting and Pau Gasol finishes with 33 points and 14 rebounds in a 111-96 victory to eliminate the Utah Jazz.

May 10, 2010|From Times staff reports

What us worry?

All the angst that followed the Lakers through Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder was erased, buried and forgotten as they defeated the Utah Jazz, 111-96, on Monday night to sweep their best-of-seven series, 4-0.

It was the first time in team history that the Jazz have been swept in a playoff series.

The Lakers move on to play the Phoenix Suns for the Western Conference championship in a series that will start next Monday at Staples Center.

The second round of the NBA playoffs has been rather one-sided as the Lakers, Suns (over San Antonio Spurs) and Orlando Magic (over the Atlanta Hawks) all swept. The only thing to decide is who the Magic will play in the Eastern Conference finals as the series between Cleveland and Boston is tied, 2-2.

Game 4 really wasn't in doubt as the Lakers dominated in the second quarter to take a 17-point halftime lead. The Jazz was able to cut their deficit to five points during the third quarter but the Lakers never looked in danger of giving up the game.

While Kobe Bryant had a Kobe-type game (32 points on 11-for-23 shooting), it was Pau Gasol, and his four-inch height advantage over Carlos Boozer, that might have made the difference. Gasol finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.

Bryant scored at least 30 points in all four games against the Jazz. Not bad for someone who had some nagging injuries.

"I just wanted to execute and not let them score in transition," Bryant said. "I feel healthy and that's a big difference."

When asked how the seven-day rest will be, he answered succinctly.

"Heavenly."

Shannon Brown played a pivotal role off the bench for the Lakers, getting 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom each added 10 points.

Deron Williams and Paul Millsap each had 21 points to lead the Jazz.

Game 4 (Fourth quarter 1:39): Lakers 109, Jazz 89

Is a 10-point lead good enough with 6 1/2 minutes to play. That's rarely a certainty in the NBA.

Well, it doesn't hurt when a team turns a bad possession into a three-pointer as the shot clock is winding down. But Paul Millsap answered with a 20-footer and the Lakers' lead was 11.

On the Lakers' next possession, Ron Artest was fouled and missed both free throws. But Pau Gasol was there for the rebound and after some ball movement he made the bucket with less than five minutes to play. At this point, Gasol had 24 points and 14 rebounds.

After an offensive foul by Millsap, the Lakers drove the ball down the court and Gasol was sent to the foul line after Carlos Boozer's fifth foul.

Gasol connected on a two from nine feet and when the Jazz missed on their possession, Boozer fouled Gasol for his sixth foul. Deron Williams was called for a technical and it was looking like the Jazz were done for the series as the Lakers' lead became 20 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

The next few minutes were uninspired garbage time play.

Game 4 (Fourth quarter 6:25): Lakers 93, Jazz 83

Coming out of the timeout, Utah's Paul Millsap hit two free throws after a Lamar Odom foul. Then the Lakers got three more points from Shannon Brown, bringing his game total to nine. Impressive.

Wesley Matthews came back with a two and the Lakers took the shot clock down to the end before Kobe Bryant was fouled. He made both free throws and the 14-point lead was intact.

Utah's Deron Williams answered with a two before misses by Bryant and the Jazz's Carlos Boozer. Bryant then came down and was charged with an offensive foul.

Millsap showed that the Jazz still had some fight left as he converted on an 18-foot jumper, closing the lead to 10 and forcing Phil Jackson to call another timeout.

Game 4 (Fourth quarter, 8:45): Lakers 88, Jazz 76

If you are a Lakers fan, the start of the fourth quarter is usually nervous time. That's when Coach Phil Jackson likes to play a lot of his second team in order to keep the starters fresh for the end of the game.

But Jackson opened the period with only Pau Gasol and Ron Artest on the bench. And considering that Lamar Odom is a sub, that's not a bad lineup.

Paul Millsap opened the Jazz's scoring with a couple free throws and then Derek Fisher hit a three-pointer from far downtown to put the Lakers' lead at 15.

After Kyle Korver missed a 22-footer, Fisher was fouled and made both free throws. Korver then hit a two and, after a Shannon Brown turnover, Deron Williams made a bucket and a subsequent free throw to cut the Jazz's deficit to 12.

Andrew Bynum missed on the next possession and then committed a foul -- his fifth -- sending Millsap to the line, where he cut the lead to 10.

Jackson wisely pulled Bynum and inserted Gasol into the lineup.

Bryant then was fouled on a drive, but more importantly slightly injured his finger. It was more of a stinger then anything serious. He made both his free throws and the lead was back to 12.

Game 4 (End of third quarter): Lakers 80, Jazz 67

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