Bryant nets 40 as Lakers swamp JazzJan 3, 2009 - 7:52 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Even with the benefit of a hefty lead, Kobe Bryant knew better than to discount the Utah Jazz.
Bryant had 40 points and seven rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to their fifth win in a row, a 113-100 victory over the Jazz on Friday.
"The style of basketball that they play, they are going to be in a lot of games," Bryant said. "They're not going to get desperate, they're going to stay patient and they're going to continue to execute. From that standpoint, it's a lot harder to maintain a huge lead."
Pau Gasol finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds as five players reached double figures for Los Angeles, which nearly blew a 20-point, first-half lead in capturing its 15 straight win at Staples Center.
"We had a great run in the first half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We lost a little bit of energy in the second quarter, but I thought we played and looked lively."
Mehmet Okur had 21 points and 11 rebounds and Ronnie Brewer scored 20 for the Utah, which dropped its fourth straight on the road. Paul Millsap extended his active league-leading streak of 17 consecutive double-doubles with 16 points and 17 rebounds.
"We had a tough time just showing any energy or emotion about playing," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "It looked like we were bored to be here and they just wore us out. We got back in the second half and competed a little bit more."
Trailing as much as 55-35 in the second quarter, the Jazz suddenly made things respectable with a 21-10 spurt to open the third that cut the deficit down to three points.
The Lakers restored order by scoring the next eight points, including a pair of buckets to push the lead back to double-digits at 75-64.
Millsap refused to go quietly, scoring 13 points in the fourth - including a layup to make it 94-89 midway through the quarter. Following a steal, Deron Williams assisted Andrei Kirilenko on a breakaway layup to get the Jazz within three points with 2:55 to go.
Gasol followed with two free throws and Trevor Ariza finished a three-point play and a putback for the 104-93 lead.
Gasol's free throws in the waning seconds pushed him over 10,000 career points, becoming the 15th international player to reach the feat.
"It means a lot, I'm extremely proud of this accomplishment," Gasol said. "It's not easy to be successful and make it in this league, so I'm thankful for the opportunity to be here and having gotten this far."
Lamar Odom scored 14 points and Ariza had 12 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles.
In their first game since beating the Golden State Warriors, 130-113, on Sunday, the Lakers showed little rust at the onset.
They started the game with a 24-8 run and went ahead 48-28 on Bryant's dunk in the second. But after taking a 57-43 advantage into the half, they allowed the suddenly aggressive Jazz to nearly overcome the comfortable lead.
"I thought we had a chance," Williams said. "A couple of times we were able to cut it down to three or four, but there were parts in the game that we just weren't able to get over the hump."
The lights went out on the Lakers in the fourth, literally. As Ariza went up for a shot with 9:28 remaining, darkness engulfed the court for a few seconds before the lights came back on. The problem was quickly corrected, avoiding any further delay.
LA LAKERS 113 FINAL
Jan 3 12:55 AM
LA LAKERS 81 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 3 12:21 AM
LA LAKERS 57 HALFTIME
Jan 2 11:38 PM
LA LAKERS 37 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 2 11:08 PM
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