Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/3

Game 1: Wednesday, November 3rd
Game 2: Monday, January 17th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 15th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 22nd

Jazz 95

(17-35, 6-21 away)

Lakers 102

(26-24, 18-10 home)

    Coverage: KJZZ

    7:30 PM ET, February 15, 2005

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 20 28 26 2195
    LAL 18 26 27 31102

    Top Performers

    UTAH: M. Okur 20 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    LAL: K. Bryant 40 Pts, 5 Reb, 8 Ast, 3 Stl

    Atkins' 3 puts L.A. ahead to stay

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant is rounding into All-Star form. It sure didn't take long.

    Bryant scored 40 points in his second game back from a month-long layoff with an ankle injury, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 102-95 victory over Utah on Tuesday night.

    Next up for Bryant is Sunday's All-Star game in Denver.

    "I'm going to go out there and play hard, the time that I'm out there, whatever time it is," said Bryant, who expects to play about 10 minutes for the Western Conference All-Stars.

    Caron Butler, who scored 23 points for Los Angeles, was impressed by Bryant's performance in his second game after the long layoff.

    "It is amazing for a guy to sit out that long and still come back and score 40 and will us to a `W.' That is just great leadership," Butler said.

    The game was Bryant's first at home since he sprained his right ankle on Jan. 13. His first game back was in Sunday's 103-89 loss at Cleveland, where he scored 26 points on 7-of-22 shooting.

    He went 12-of-19 from the floor and 15-of-19 from the line against the Jazz, plus eight assists and five rebounds.

    "I needed to get a game under my belt to get my legs back, get my rhythm back," Bryant said. "And it's back."

    Chucky Atkins added 24 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 96-95 lead with 54 seconds remaining. They stayed in front the rest of the way, pulling away in the closing moments on free throws.

    Reserve Mehmet Okur had 20 points for Utah as the Jazz reserves outscored the Lakers' bench 50-2. Another reserve, Howard Eisley, had 14 points and nine assists.

    Starter Matt Harpring had 18 points for Utah.

    Utah was missing its top two scorers, Carlos Boozer (17.8 points per game) and Andrei Kirilenko (14.6). Both were sidelined by sprained right ankles, hurt in a 136-128 loss to Phoenix on Monday.

    Without that pair, the combined scoring average for the five starters against the Lakers was a paltry 37.4 points a game.

    Slava Medvedenko got his first start of the season for Los Angeles, filling in for Lamar Odom, and had seven points and nine rebounds. The Lakers said Odom had a virus, but should be fine in a couple of days.

    After trailing 62-49 early in the third quarter, Los Angeles closed to 74-71 by the end of the period. Bryant got the Lakers fired up when he was hacked on his right arm driving to the basket, switched the ball to his left hand and lobbed the ball through the hoop.

    After showboating a bit by staring at his left palm and feinting disbelief, Bryant made the free throw to cut the lead to 68-64.

    Game notes

    Kirilenko has missed 27 games, 26 because of a strained right knee. Utah is 11-14 with Kirilenko in the lineup and 6-21 when he doesn't play. ... Odom is averaging 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game. ... The Lakers are 2-5 since Rudy Tomjanovich retired and assistant Frank Hamblen became interim coach.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 95 102
    FGM-FGA 34-79 (.430) 33-73 (.452)
    3PM-3PA 3-6 (.500) 7-25 (.280)
    FTM-FTA 24-26 (.923) 29-37 (.784)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-37 11-40
    Assists 23 20
    Turnovers 12 10
    Steals 4 8
    Blocks 2 6
    Fast Break Points 6 27
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (1/0) 27 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 13 8

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Mehmet Okur Okur
    Points: 20
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 40
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0