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Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 12:29 UK

Lakers edge Jazz to seal progress

Kobe Bryant starred for the Lakers.
Bryant was the main man for the Lakers in Salt Lake City

The LA Lakers held off a late fightback by the Utah Jazz to book their place in the NBA Western Conference finals with a tense 108-105 road victory.

Kobe Bryant led the way with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Lakers won the semi-final series 4-2.

Pau Gasol scored 17 points and Derek Fisher 16 while three other Lakers playersalso finished in double-figures.

In Cleveland, LeBron James's 32 points helped the Cav beat Boston 74-69 to force a game-seven finale in the East.

In Salt Lake City, the Lakers made a storming start and led 86-70 going into the fourth quarter.

But the Jazz trimmed the deficit to seven points before Bryant delivered two magical two-pointers to regain control for the visitors.

However, Utah again clawed their way back and forward Andrei Kirilenko's three-point jumper cut the lead to 103-100 with 25.5 seconds left but LA held on to win.

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The Lakers will take on either the defending NBA champions San Antonio or New Orleans in the conference finals. The Spurs face the Hornets in the series decider in on Monday.

Cleveland led 59-50 going into the fourth quarter but had to weather a late rally by the conference's top seeds.

Their victory sets up a series decider in Boston on Sunday. The home team has won every game in the series so far.

James said: "We feel good but it's just one game. We had a game tonight where we could have gone down and it would have been over.

"It was a long game and we're going to let our hair down and then go into Boston and try to steal this one."



see also
Spurs v Hornets goes all the way
16 May 08 |  Basketball
Hamilton inspires Pistons victory
14 May 08 |  Basketball
Cavaliers pull level with Celtics
13 May 08 |  Basketball
Jazz & Spurs win to level semis
12 May 08 |  Basketball
Bryant finally lands MVP accolade
08 May 08 |  Basketball


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