Kobe Bryant, celebrating what is expected to be his first NBA MVP award, did just enough to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another postseason victory. Bryant had 38 points, six rebounds and seven assists yesterday, as the Lakers made it five straight playoff wins by beating the Utah Jazz 109-98 to begin the second round. Game 2 is Wednesday night in L.A.
Bryant scored 24 points to help the Lakers take a 54-41 halftime lead, and although they were on top the rest of the way, there were some anxious moments down the stretch. Pau Gasol added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Lamar Odom had 16 points and nine, while Sasha Vujacic scored 15 for the Lakers.