Lakers Top Jazz, Take 3-2 Lead
By Doug Sweeney,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2008 7:13 AM CDT
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) goes up for a shot as Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, center, of Russia, and Utah Jazz forward Mehmet Okur, of Turkey.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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(Newser) – So much for Kobe Bryant's sore lower back. Bryant scored 26 points, his teammates kept Utah at bay down the stretch, and Los Angeles Lakers extended the stunning home success by NBA teams in the second round of the playoffs, beating the Jazz 111-104 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

The Lakers, who never trailed, can advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 with a victory Friday night in Utah. But if form prevails, the teams will be playing a seventh and deciding game Monday night at Staples Center, where Los Angeles has a 17-3 record against the Jazz since the arena opened before the 1999-2000 season.