Lakers go outside to open 3-0 lead on Jazz Magic roll past Hawks for 3-0 series lead
By DOUG ALDEN
SALT LAKE CITY — After winning the first two games by dominating inside, the Los Angeles Lakers went outside in Game 3 and took a 3-0 series lead on the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference playoffs.
Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher hit back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-2 run in the final minute and the Lakers held on for a 111-110 victory over Utah Jazz last night that put Los Angeles on the verge of a sweep.
The Lakers outlasted the Jazz in a frenzied fourth quarter, which included 12 lead changes before Utah's final attempt bounced off the rim in the final second.
"It was fun basketball to watch, I'm sure," said Bryant, who scored 35 to lead the Lakers. "Guys just coming down making big shot after big shot, and big play after big play. It was certainly fun to be a part of."
From the Lakers' perspective, it was a blast. They never led by more than four, but stayed close enough to win it in the final minute and steal away Utah's first home game of the series.
The Jazz had two chances to win it in the final 4 seconds, but Deron Williams missed from the top of the key and Wesley Matthews' tip just before the buzzer also missed.
"It's a tough loss, period. We were again in the game and had a chance to win the game and things aren't going our way," Williams said.
Williams had 28 points and nine assists and Kyle Korver added a career playoff-high 23 points for the Jazz, making all five of his 3-point attempts.
Fisher finished with 20 points and Pau Gasol added 14 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles, which can close out the four-game sweep with a win tomorrow in Game 4.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan said the Jazz's effort to keep the Lakers out of the middle opened up some 3-point shots and Los Angeles capitalized.
"We felt like that was the chance to stay in the ballgame," Sloan said. "That right there probably got us."
Both teams scored 32 in the paint and the Lakers were able to break the tie from outside. Ron Artest scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for the Lakers, breaking out of a 3-point slump by shooting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
"It's all about momentum," Bryant said. "We had been given good opportunities. It was just a matter of them falling, and the shots starting falling at the right time."
Bryant's 3-pointer with 54 seconds left tied it at 106. After a jumper by Williams, Fisher hit another from beyond the arc to put the Lakers up 109-108 with 28.6 seconds left.
"He played a great game tonight," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He made some shots and made some defensive plays. Just his tenacity is a factor for us."
Carlos Boozer, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds, missed a putback attempt and the Jazz had to foul Bryant, who hit both free throws for a 111-108 lead with 7.8 seconds left. Williams drew a foul with 6.1 seconds and made both from the line to cut it to 111-110.
The Lakers couldn't inbound the ball and called timeout. They tried again, but Fisher fell before he could get the pass from Artest, and Korver grabbed the loose ball and called time with 4.4 seconds left.
After the timeout, Williams' shot from the top of the key bounced off the rim. There was still enough time for Matthews to get a hand on the rebound, but his tip also bounced off.