for this game

Bryant helps Lakers snap Jazz's home winning streak

Mar 21, 2008 - 7:06 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- It was nice while it lasted.

It took nearly three months, but the Utah Jazz finally fell on their own court as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped the team's 19-game home winning streak with a 106-95 victory on Thursday night.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 points to lead the Lakers, who became the first visiting team since the Boston Celtics on December 29 to win at EnergySolutions Arena.

"We knew how tough they are at home and what kind of energy they would come out with, so it was important for us to have a good start to the ballgame," Bryant said. "We were able to do that, kept the crowd out of the game and came out of here with a big win."

With the victory, the Lakers (47-21) temporarily took over the top spot in the Western Conference, moving one-half game ahead of the idle New Orleans Hornets (46-21).

"That's for now," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "We've got to keep winning so we can stiff-arm these teams a little bit."

After dominating for most of the night, the Lakers had to fight off the Jazz, who came to life in the game's waning minutes. Naturally, it was the superstars of each team trading jabs.

After Carlos Boozer's layup cut Utah's deficit to 92-81, Bryant answered with a 20-footer that barely moved the inside of the net.

Less than a minute later, Boozer - who had 23 points and 15 rebounds - responded with a fadeaway jumper on the baseline. But once again, Bryant was equal to the task, burying another jumper from the wing to put the Lakers ahead, 96-84, with just over four minutes left to play.

Deron Williams, who finished with 26 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds, pulled the Jazz within eight points by completing a four-point play after being fouled by Bryant while attempting a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

However, Bryant responded, turning the momentum back in the Lakers' favor by driving into heavy traffic and finishing with an emphatic dunk to keep his team ahead by double digits, a lead the Jazz failed to overcome.

"We were rolling at that point," Boozer said. "We came back, made a little bit of a run. And then Kobe hit some tough shots with hands right in his face. He made the shots, though, give him credit."

Los Angeles took control of the game in the early going thanks to some hot shooting.

The Lakers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of play and took a 20-point advantage after one quarter on the strength of a 15-of-20 shooting effort from the field, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

"I think we lost the game in the first quarter," Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "A 20-point (deficit) - especially with the Lakers, who are playing great basketball this season - it's tough to follow that."

The Jazz, who remain the NBA's best home team at 29-4, failed to threaten the Lakers' advantage until the third quarter.

Midway through the third, Utah found its explosiveness, going into the paint on five straight possessions and coming away with five layups to cut a 24-point deficit to 75-64 with 4:36 remaining in the quarter.

But the Lakers managed to take a 12-point lead into the fourth and opened the quarter with consecutive 3-pointers by Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic, who seemed to be waiting with open arms on the perimeter all night.

Moments later, Farmar and Ronny Turiaf added back-to-back jumpers as the Lakers' advantage ballooned to 19 points.

"I think we were concentrating a little bit on Kobe too much," Kirilenko said. "Kobe did a great job, he just found the open man every single time ... That's a nightmare."