The AP reports:
While the Los Angeles Lakers’ reserves haplessly gave away the lead early in the fourth quarter, the Utah Jazz celebrated every basket with increasing glee, spilling off their bench in anticipation of an upset…
Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 31 points in the final four minutes, and the Lakers blew a fourth-quarter lead before rallying for a 104-99 victory Sunday.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds while blocking five shots for the top-seeded Lakers, whose backups were nearly run off the court by the fired-up Jazz before Bryant seized control.
Last season’s NBA finals MVP coolly scored seven consecutive points to erase Utah’s four-point lead, followed by a dynamic slice through the lane for a layup with 22.6 seconds left. Los Angeles also did it with defense, holding the Jazz to one field goal in the final 4:10…
Deron Williams scored 24 points for fifth-seeded Utah, which went 3:51 without a field goal after taking a 93-89 lead…
Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 12 rebounds, while C.J. Miles added 16 points, including several difficult baskets in the fourth quarter while the Jazz surged ahead with a 12-1 run.
Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports:
“It was very encouraging for me to be able to move around and do what I want to do,” said Bryant, whose team trailed until he scored 13 points in a 5:07 span down the stretch.
Derek Fisher joked that the other Lakers could have sat down and let Bryant go 1 on 5 because he was that good, but teammate Lamar Odom did come up with a key put-back of Bryant’s miss with 49.9 seconds left for a 98-95 Lakers lead.
Bryant called his knee “a lot better” and finished with 31 points, shooting 12 of 19 from the field and 7 of 7 from the foul line. He dominated late the way Pau Gasol (25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, five blocks) did much of the early parts of the game.
The Lakers have a 1-0 series lead, and Coach Phil Jackson’s teams are 45-0 with such an advantage in his career. Jackson is 52-1 with any kind of series lead, and this playoff victory gave him 103 with the Lakers, one more than Pat Riley atop the Lakers’ all-time list.