April 27 - STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Once again the Lakers built a big lead and once again they had to suffer to get the win, 107-96 over the Jazz.
But with Kobe Bryant scoring 31 points and Lamar Odom adding 26 points and 15 rebounds, the Lakers closed their first-round series 4-1 and got a couple of days of rest waiting for the winner of the series between Rockets and Trail Blazers (Houston leads 3-1)
After a 26-all tie in the first quarter, L.A. opened the second with a 14-3 run that included 3-pointers by Odom, Kobe and Sasha Vujacic. At the end of the period Kobe gave his team a 56-43 halftime lead with a circus fadeaway jumper as time expired. Things looked even worst for Utah in the third where they were completely dominated at the end and were down by 22 points, 80-58 with 2:20 remaining.
But then the Lakers showed a characteristic that they have shown previously in this series and in a big number of games during the regular season. As easy as they score, they relax their defense, specially with the second unit on the floor and allow the rival to score at will to finally get a grip at the end. The Jazz made their final effort of the season and cut L.A.'s lead to 95-89 with 3:43 left in the fourth. Then the Lakers won it basically from the free-throw line.
Gasol had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Ariza 12 points for the Lakers. Paul Milsap led Utah with 16 points while Deron Williams were unusually erratic with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting and had 6 assists. Luke Walton didn't play and will be out for at least one week with a partial ligament tear in his left ankle suffered in game 4.