The Los Angeles Lakers danced to a familiar tune against the Utah Jazz. Their 111-96 win over Utah in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals swept the Jazz out the playoffs and sent Los Angeles to their third straight Western Conference finals.

Pao Gasol led Los Angeles with 33 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. The size of the 7-footer was often too much for the undersized Jazz throughout the four-game series as he averaged 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds.

But Gasol wasn’t alone in his dominance. As he’s done all series, Kobe Bryant backed Gasol’s efforts and terrorized Utah with 32 points and four rebounds. Bryant averaged 32 points and just less than six assists in the series.

The Lakers led by as many as 22 points in the first half before Utah battled back, fueled by star point guard Deron Williams’ 21points and nine assists. But the defending champions have seen huge leads come and go and regained control in the fourth quarter to hold on for the sweep.

“With close-out games, you have a tendency to lose focus,” Bryant said in the post game press conference. “We kept our concentration and paid attention to detail.”

Los Angeles will open against the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on May 17 at the Staples Center.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO