LOS ANGELES, April 22 – Kobe Bryant scored 26 points, Pau Gasol added 22 in a 119-109 win over the Utah Jazz, giving Los Angeles a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round Western Conference playoff series.
"It was an offensive display, not always great ballhandling, but a lot of scoring," Bryant said. "That was a trial out there and they threw some new things at us."
Lamar Odum added 19 coming in off the bench and Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson notched his 195th career playoff win on Tuesday, the most of any coach in National Basketball Association history.
Deron Williams scored a career playoff-high 35 points and Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who head home for game three on Thursday. They again played without injured centre Mehmet Okur.
Utah lost its 11th in a row at Staples Center, including playoff games.
"I really don’t know what to expect out of this team in Utah," Jackson said. "We’ve gone in there and won in the past. We feel like we can go in there again and do the job."
Said Bryant, "We’re not thinking about it being over at all. We’re thinking about game three."
The Lakers’ shooting sizzled in the opening quarter, but they found themselves in a tight battle throughout much of the second half.
"We played a lot better in game two than we did in game one. We still got down by a lot early but we were able to fight back," Boozer said. "We had chances to win it in the fourth quarter. They just made plays."
Utah closed within six points seven times in the third quarter when the Lakers came unglued offensively. Bryant missed several shots, Gasol got called for offensive basket interference and Derek Fisher committed three turnovers.
Each time the Jazz threatened, the Lakers came up with a basket. In the final 2:27, Bryant scored six consecutive points and assisted on Shannon Brown’s three-pointer to send the Lakers into the fourth leading 89-78.
Brandon Roy scored 42 points as Portland beat Houston 107-103 Tuesday to level their first round NBA playoff series at one game each.
The series moves to Houston for game three on Friday.
Aaron Brooks led a late charge and finished with 23 points for Houston, which has not made it out of the first round since 1997. Von Wafer came off the bench to add 21.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 12 rebounds for Trail Blazers, who had never dropped the first two games of a playoff series at home and played one of their most physical games of the season.
"Now we know what we have to do," Aldridge said. "We have to be physical with these guys and play with confidence."
The Rockets took the first game 108-81 by building a big lead and stunning the nervous Trail Blazers from the start. China’s giant centre Yao Ming was perfect, making all nine of his shots from the field and all six of his free throws for 24 points, all in the first half.
Blazers centre Joel Przybilla changed it up against Yao for game two, fronting him rather than playing behind him.
And coach Nate McMillan used both Przybilla and Oden at the same time, something he’s done just once before.
Yao had 11 points and eight rebounds but got into foul trouble.
"We guessed what they would try to do, which was obviously fronts and double teams," Yao said. "They used both tonight and tried to get the ball out of my hands. I think they did well."