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NBA Playoffs Enter Second Round

Robert P. Stephens | 5/5/2010, 2:13 p.m.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jeff Green is guarded by
L.A. Laker guard Luke Walton in Round One of the Western
Conference Playoffs. Courtesy Photo.

The Los Angeles Lakers held on to defeat the Utah Jazz 104-99 at the Staples Center before a crowd of 18,997 on Sunday, May 2 to take a 1-0 lead in their best of seven series. The defending champs jumped out to a 30-23 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The defending champs shot 53.2% from the floor compared to the Jazz who shot 44.7%. The Lakers used their height advantage to out rebound the Jazz 43-38.

" They are a great team and you have to stand up to the test for they will challenge you on everything" said Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan. " Give them credit they are a great team." Said Sloan. " Kobe obviously dominated down the stretch." said the Jazz head coach. In game two of the series, the Lakers defeated the Jazz 111-103. The series now shifts to Utah for game three, which will be played on Sat. May 8.

The Lakers advanced to the second round after a six-game series with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who gave the defending champs a tough physical series. Bryant and center Andrew Bynum are both nursing injuries and Laker coach Phil Jackson is monitoring both players minutes, especially Bynum.

Kobe Bryant lead all scorers with 31 points to pace the Lakers. Paul Gasol chipped in with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assist. Derek Fisher added 10 points and LaMar Odom had 9 points to go with his 12 rebounds in game one.

Laker head coach Phil Jackson was not pleased with his second unit who allowed the Jazz to fight back.

" Our bench let us down in the fourth quarter not so much as offensively where things were going wrong for them but the types of shots the gave up." said the Laker coach at his press conference after the game.

" We put ourselves in a hole in the fourth quarter and let them get momentum." said Kobe Bryant at the Lakers press conference. " Our second unit has got to play better its as simple as that." said Bryant.

Point guard Deron Williams led the Jazz with 24 points and 8 assist. Carlos Boozer added 18 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. CJ Miles also scored 18 points for Utah.
L.A. Lakers forward Ron Artest guards Utah Jazz point guard
Deron Williams in game one of the series. Courtesy photo.
In the other Western matchup, the Phoenix Suns will face the The San Antonio Spurs. In their regular season matchups the Suns won two out of three. The Spurs have beaten the Suns four times since 2003 bouncing them from the playoffs.

The Suns are led in scoring by Jason Richardson (23.5) with Amar'e Stoudemire (20.5) and the veteran Steve Nash (15.0) . Channing Frye (8.2), Leandro Barboa and Grant Hill both average 8 points per game. During the regular season the Suns averaged 112.7 points per game against the Spurs while holding them to 106.9.

The Spurs are led by Manu Ginobili ( 19 ) points per game. Veteran center/forwqard Tim Duncan (18.2 ) and Tony Parker (15.8 ) round out the Spurs savvy veterans. George Hill (14.3 ) has brought scoring off the bench. Richard Jefferson (9.2 ) another veteran provides offense. The Suns took game one of the series 111-102. Game two is Wed., May 5 in Phoenix.

In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers led, by the 2010 NBA MVP LeBron James took a 1-0 lead in their series Sunday with a 101-93 win over the Boston Celtics at the Quicken Loans Center. The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 22-15 in the fourth quarter to secure the win. James led all scoeres with 35 points while dishing out 7 assist. Their was concern before the game about LeBron's elbow.

" I think his elbow is just fine," said Celtic coach Doc Rivers." I'm pretty sure of that actually." said the Celtic head coach. Mo Williams chipped in with 20 points and 6 assist to help the Cavaliers secure the first win in this series. Rajon Rando led the Celtics with 27 points while dishing out 12 assist. Kevin Garnett finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics tied the series with a 104-86 blowout win in game two. Game three will be played in Boston on Fri., May 7.

The other match up in the East will be the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Orlando Magic. The Hawks eliminated Milwaukee Sunday 95-74; the only first round playoff series to go seven games. The Hawks held Milwaukee to 32.6% shooting in the series.

" The only way we get out of this series is we defend . We did that in Milwaukee and then today."said Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson at the Hawk's press conference. The Magic, led by Defensive player of the year Dwight Howard won three out of four meetings this year with the Hawks.

After a week-long layoff for Orlando, who swept the Charlotte Bobcats in their first round series, the Magic destroyed the Hawks in game one, 114-71 in a contest that was never close. Game two of the series is Thu., May 6 in Orlando.