Lakers, Magic can rest up
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 1:59 pm
By: By The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have a little more time to rest before their third straight trip to the Western Conference finals.
The Lakers advanced again by completing a four-game sweep of Utah with a 111-96 win on Monday night in Utah, eliminating the Jazz and any threat of playing a Game 5 back in Los Angeles.
Instead, the Lakers have almost a week to prepare for the conference finals against the Suns, who wrapped up their own sweep on Sunday night at San Antonio.
“I look forward to a couple days of rest, but I really look forward to starting it up against a very good Phoenix team,” said Pau Gasol, who had 33 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers on Monday.
Kobe Bryant added 32 points for the Lakers, who will host Game 1 against the Suns on Monday.
After winning Game 3 with a late surge and a missed tip by Utah on Saturday, the Lakers led almost all of Game 4. Los Angeles ran up a 22-point lead on the Jazz in the first half, then withstood a brief surge by Utah in the third quarter before regaining control in the fourth.
The Lakers have won six straight in the playoffs — as have the Suns.
“The difference with how they played when we met them in the regular season and how they play now I think is just confidence. They believe in what they are doing,” Bryant said. “They want it. They are very, very hungry.”
Magic 98, Hawks 84
ATLANTA (AP) — The Orlando Magic dribbled the final seconds off the clock, shook hands with another defeated foe, then turned to more important matters.
Time to get ready for another series. The celebration can wait.
“There’s more work to be done,” Jameer Nelson said. “We still have things to accomplish.”
Ever since they lost in last year’s NBA finals, the Magic have been determined to get back — and, this time, win it all.
They are halfway there after a thoroughly dominating performance against the team that finished just behind them in the Eastern Conference standings.
Orlando finished off the third-seeded Atlanta Hawks with a 98-84 victory on Monday night, winning the second-round series by an average of 25.3 points for the most lopsided four-game sweep in league history.
“Guys are just focused,” said Vince Carter, who led the Magic with 22 points. “It’s unbelievable to see.”
Orlando heads to the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row. The Magic 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.
The Cavaliers and the Celtics are tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Tuesday, which means Orlando will get another extended break before its next series. That’s the same formula that worked so well after a sweep of Charlotte in the opening round, when the Magic got eight days to rest up for the Hawks — then wiped them out.
After the worst home playoff loss in franchise history, a 30-point blowout in Game 3, the Hawks were a little more competitive with their season on the line.
Still, they had no chance.
Atlanta held Dwight Howard to 13 points and eight rebounds by clogging up the lane with double- and triple-teams, only to discover again the Magic have plenty of other options.