Lakers, Magic sweep series to reach conference finals
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, Pau Gasol added 33 points and 14 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers completed a four-game sweep of the Utah Jazz with a 111-96 victory on Monday night, advancing to the Western Conference finals for the third straight year.
The Lakers quickly ended the Jazz’s hopes of extending the series by pulling ahead by 22 in the second quarter. Utah got within five in the third, but couldn’t sustain the comeback against the defending NBA champions, who made very few mistakes and didn’t give the Jazz many chances to rally.
Los Angeles had just six turnovers and made 29-of-36 foul shots while knocking Utah out of the playoffs for the third straight year. The Lakers are off until hosting the Phoenix Suns next Monday in Game 1 of the West finals.
Deron Williams led Utah with 21 points and nine assists.
Carlos Boozer had 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyrylo Fesenko added 12 rebounds for Utah, which was swept for the first time in 21 years.
The Jazz lost the first three games by single digits but never found a way to slow down Bryant, who scored 30 or more in all four games. The Lakers finally got a blowout in the final game and by doing so earned a week of rest.
Shannon Brown scored 12 and Lamar Odom added 10 points for the Lakers.
Magic 98, Hawks 84
ATLANTA (AP) — The Orlando Magic are playing like a team that will settle for nothing less than its first NBA championship.
Vince Carter scored 22 points to lead another dominating performance by the Magic, which finished off its second straight playoff sweep with a 98-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
Orlando won the four games by an average of 25 points — a total blowout that no one could have expected in a matchup between the teams that finished second and third in the Eastern Conference.
But the Magic, who lost to the Lakers in last year’s NBA Finals, are playing better than anyone at the most important time of the season. They have won 14 in a row — the last eight in the playoffs — and 28 of 31 games.
The Magic are off to the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row. They will face either Boston or a rematch with Cleveland, the team they upset for last year’s conference title before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Orlando barely broke a sweat against the Hawks, and Game 4 was more of the same. Atlanta held Dwight Howard to 13 points and eight rebounds, but the Magic had plenty of other options.
Jameer Nelson was unstoppable, baffling the Hawks with his now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t quickness as the Magic raced out to a quick lead in the first half. He finished with 16 points and nine assists. Rashard Lewis scored 17 points, knocking down four 3-pointers. Mickael Pietrus scored 12 points — all of them from beyond the arc.
The Magic shot 55 percent from the field and never trailed during either game in Atlanta.
Hawks star Joe Johnson finished off a miserable series by scoring only 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He was booed by the home crowd at the start of the game and got the same treatment when he went to the bench with 3:51 to play. The fans were still miffed that he said didn’t care if they “showed up or not” after they heckled the team in a 30-point loss on Saturday.
Orlando didn’t stand pat after losing to the Lakers, trading for Carter in hopes that he would be the final piece needed for a title. So far, so good. The Magic blew through Charlotte in the opening round, then thoroughly dominated the team that finished just behind them in the East.
Atlanta ended the third quarter with a bit of momentum, having sliced a 17-point deficit down to 75-66. Orlando quickly put an end to any thought of a comeback.
Zaza Pachulia picked up two quick fouls trying to guard Howard, then Lewis got open for a 3-pointer. Johnson misfired on a funky, one-handed shot in the lane, and Carter buried a 19-foot jumper with Josh Smith right in his face for an 80-66 lead.
The Hawks called a timeout, but it didn’t matter.
They were done.