Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant proved why his peers still call him the best “closer” in the NBA, scoring 24 points to drive the Lakers to a 98-80 win over the New Orleans Hornets which clinched the first-round series for the defending champs, 4-2.
Bryant scored 22 of his total points in the first three quarters and rested most of the fourth quarter while his teammates maintained a comfortable double-digit lead. Lakers center Andrew Bynum also performed well, recording a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Forward/center Pau Gasol added 16 points and eight rebounds while forward Lamar Odom followed with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Forward Carl Landry led the Hornets with 19 points while star guard Chris Paul was limited to just 10 points and 11 assists.
L.A. advances to face the Dallas Mavericks, who eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games. Game 1 of the second-round series tips off on May 2.