Lakers silence Jazz


LOS ANGELES, May 5 – Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and the Los Angeles Lakers beat Utah 111-103 on Tuesday, giving the reigning NBA champions a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series.Bryant scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and found his shooting touch late in the fourth to deny a Jazz rally as the Lakers took command of the series, which continues Saturday and Monday in Salt Lake City.

Pau Gasol added 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who also had 17 points from Andrew Bynum in their 16th home victory in a row over the Jazz.

The Jazz, who had trailed by as much as 15, trimmed the deficit to eight before Bryant caught fire late, scoring 13 points in the quarter to give the Lakers an 87-77 edge entering the fourth quarter.

Utah pulled within 98-94 with 4:41 remaining before Bryant hit two free throws, his first points of the fourth quarter, and added another free throw when fouled on the next Laker possession to give Los Angeles a 101-94 edge.

Moments later, Bryant added a long-range two-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Lakers a 105-96 edge. He added a fast break layup seconds later and two free throws with 38 seconds remaining to silence the Jazz.

"It’s my responsibility when things get a little tight," Bryant said. "I just have to make the right call."

The Lakers took advantage of double-teaming defensively on Bryant by finding other players for open shots.

"We did a good job moving the ball and finding the open man," Bryant said. "It’s something was have to take advantage of."

Paul Millsap led Utah with 26 points while C.J. Miles and Carlos Boozer each scored 20 points for the Jazz.

Injured English football star David Beckham was seated at courtside for the game and during a stoppage in play, Bryant came near him and bounced the ball off his head in a nod of respect to the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whose contract expires after this season, said before the game there was a 90 percent chance that he would be coaching the Lakers if he remains in coaching and that he had no interest in the vacant coaching job at Chicago, which he coached to six NBA titles in the 1990s.

Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had considered returning for Utah from a strained left calf injury that has kept him out for three weeks, did not play but expects to return for game three in Salt Lake City.