Yahoo: Just in case the Utah Jazz forgot how Kobe Bryant finishes games, he provided another painful playoff reminder.
Bryant scored 11 of his 31 points in the final four minutes, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew a fourth-quarter lead before rallying for a 104-99 victory over the Jazz in their second-round series opener Sunday.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the top-seeded Lakers, who played a dismal final period before Bryant seized control. Last season’s NBA finals MVP coolly scored seven consecutive points to erase Utah’s four-point lead, followed by a dynamic slice through the lane for a layup with 22.6 seconds left.
The clubs are meeting in the postseason for the third consecutive year after the Lakers ended Utah’s last two seasons, including a first-round victory in 2009. In each of the teams’ previous five playoff meetings, the winner went on to the NBA finals.
Deron Williams scored 24 points for fifth-seeded Utah, which managed just one more field goal after taking a 93-89 lead with 4:10 to play. Utah has lost 15 straight to the Lakers at Staples Center, including seven playoff games.
Los Angeles will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night.