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|NBA Playoffs Roundup -- 5/10/10
|UNDATED (AP) -0- The Los Angeles Lakers are one step closer toward their goal of repeating as NBA champions.
Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, Pau Gasol added 33 points and 14 rebounds, and the Lakers completed a four-game sweep of the Utah Jazz, 111-96. That sends the Lakers to the Western Conference finals for the third straight year.
The Lakers opened a 22-point lead in the second quarter. Utah got within five in the third, but couldn't get closer.
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. Deron Williams led Utah with 21 points and nine assists.
The Lakers advance to play the Phoenix Suns, but not before a week off. The Western Conference finals are set to open next Monday night at Staples Center.
In the Eastern Conference, 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.
Orlando won the four games by an average of 25 points.
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've won 14 in a row, the last eight in the playoffs, and 28 of 31 games.
Orlando awaits the Cleveland-Boston winner. That series is tied 2-2 heading into Tuesday night's Game 5 in Cleveland.
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) -- Cleveland coach Mike Brown says LeBron James might play more defense on Boston guard Rajon Rondo in Tuesday night's Game 5 of their playoff series.
Rondo had 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in the Celtics' 97-87 win Sunday that evened the series at 2-2.
While James is one of the NBA's top defenders, Brown is reluctant to have him go head-to-head with Rondo because he has been doing such a good job on Boston forward Paul Pierce. Pierce is averaging just 11.8 points and shooting 32 percent in four games.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)