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Lakers uses late push to clip Jazz, win third straight

Feb 27, 2007 - 6:57 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Smush Parker helped the Los Angeles Lakers continue to rebound from their recent slide.

Parker scored 25 points, including a 3-pointer that ignited a decisive fourth-quarter run, as the Lakers captured their third straight victory with a 102-94 victory at the Utah Jazz.

Kobe Bryant had 35 points and Lamar Odom added 19, 14 rebounds and nine assists for Los Angeles, which also claimed its second consecutive road victory after halting a six-game losing streak with a 122-96 home rout of the Boston Celtics on Friday.

With the score tied at 82-82, Parker hit a 3-pointer with 4:22 remaining that started a 12-2 run. Bryant, who scored 11 points in the fourth, capped the burst with a follow dunk after Maurice Evans rebounded the All-Star's missed jumper, making it 94-84 with 1:47 left.

Evans, who started his third consecutive game in place of the injured Luke Walton, also hit a 3-pointer during the spurt. He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

"We had a couple of big baskets. Smush and Mo (Evans) hit some big baskets - 3-pointers - when we really were kind of stalled out," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Kobe looked pretty exhausted out there."

Suffering from strep throat that kept him out of the team shootaround earlier in the day, Bryant was clearly not at his best, going just 7-of-21 from the field. He made up for the poor shooting with frequent trips to the free-throw line, finishing 21-of-24.

Bryant said he came down with strep throat a couple of days ago and has been trying to get as much as rest as possible, but there was no way he was missing any time on the floor.

"I feel like crap, it's gotten worse and worse," he said. "But we've got three days (off), hopefully I can rest a bit. I was feeling a little wimpish, but I got a good dose of 'Patton' today on AMC (American Movie Classics) - that knocked the yellow-belly right out of me."

Although it was playing without point guard Deron Williams because of a strained groin, Utah was within 94-87 with 1:13 when Mehmet Okur airballed a 3-point attempt.

Playing for the first time in three games due to back spasms, Okur struggled from the floor, scoring just nine points on 3-of-19 shooting.

"Memo's first game back in a couple games, and he didn't have his legs under him," Jazz guard Derek Fisher said. "But we're not disappointed in him at all; he's done it too many times. We'll call this a mulligan."

"Our defense packed it in and did a pretty decent job," Jackson said. "But when Mehmet shoots like he shot tonight, it's gonna be tough for them to win. We were lucky he didn't hit his shots. That's part of it. The fact that he went 3-for-19 is remarkable."

Bryant made Utah and Okur pay for the airball, coming back with a hanging jumper in the lane for a 96-87 cushion with 50 seconds left.

Parker knocked down six of the Lakers' 10 3-pointers as they pulled away in the final stretch of the fourth quarter.

"We knew that they like to close the middle up on penetration," Parker said. "If there's penetration from the wing, the guy on the weak side is gonna be open because his man is going to sink to the middle. My teammates did a great job of finding me in open spots."

Bryant scored 20 of his points in the second quarter, going to the line 15 times - making 14 - and connecting on 16-of-19 from the stripe in the first half as the Lakers built a five-point lead. Now that he and the Lakers have put together a modest three-game winning streak, they get three days off.

"It's definitely a building block," Parker said of the three-game stretch. "We have to make up for all the losses we've had the last few weeks. This is a start, and we're gonna continue to build on it."

Fisher, who converted a four-point play with 46 ticks remaining, finished with 23 points for the Jazz, who had a six-game home winning streak snapped.

Matt Harpring scored 14 points off the bench and Carlos Boozer added 13 and nine rebounds for Utah, which made just 7-of-24 (29 percent) shots in the final period.

"We had a very difficult time trying to stop them down the stretch because we missed a couple extra plays ... and consequently we had to take tough shots," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "You can't rely on those kinds of things because they're too good defensively."

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