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Kobe scores 40 as Lakers win 17th of 18 at home

LOS ANGELES -- Sure, Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, but it was Trevor Ariza's quick hands that saved the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ariza came up with two of his season-high five steals in the last 2:22 and scored two fast-break baskets to help the Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 113-100 Friday night for their fifth straight win and 17th in 18 home games.

"Two plays in a row Trevor changed the game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He anticipates well. He's a cobra out there and he just strikes."

Ariza had a dazzling 19-second stretch in which he swiped the ball, scored on a fast-break driving layup, got fouled, got another steal and scored on a layup. With 34 seconds left, he dunked on a fast break off a pass from Pau Gasol.

"I got in some passing lanes and I made some big plays," Ariza said. "If we want to win, that's how we're going to do it, on the defensive end."

Ariza finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and the five steals.

"He was making great plays," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We put it right out there for him to get. I think I could've gotten a steal on those two."

Gasol added 21 points, giving him 10,001 for his career, and had 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who were coming off a four-day break.

Mehmet Okur had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who have lost four of their last six and three in a row on the road, where they are 7-11. Ronnie Brewer added 20 points, and Deron Williams had 10 points and 12 assists.

"I thought we gave ourselves a chance," Williams said. "We have a chance to beat them once we get healthy and once we get everyone back and start playing like what we are capable of."

Paul Millsap extended his streak of double-doubles to 17 -- longest active in the NBA -- with 16 points and 17 rebounds despite playing with a strained left leg ligament that had kept him out of Utah's three previous games.

Bryant was 12-of-14 at the line and the Lakers were 32-of-42 overall.

Down 15 points to start the fourth quarter, Utah outscored the Lakers 11-2 to get within seven. Lamar Odom's driving dunk gave the Lakers back their double-digit lead only to see Utah take it away again.

The Lakers didn't help themselves when Bryant missed two consecutive shots and Odom turned the ball over before Andrei Kirilenko scored off his own steal to draw the Jazz to 97-93 with 2:59 remaining.

Jackson said Bryant "tried to do too much" in the fourth quarter and Gasol didn't get established inside like he did in the first half.

But it was all Los Angeles in the final 2:38. Ariza grabbed an offensive rebound and scored off Derek Fisher's air ball to keep the Lakers ahead 104-93. Bryant hit a late 3-pointer and Ariza dunked to dismiss the team they played in last season's Western Conference semifinals, where the Lakers won in six games.

Bryant said Ariza makes a huge difference for Los Angeles defensively.

"Defensively is the part that is kind of sticking out for him right now, but he is a good, well-rounded player," Bryant said.

The Jazz whittled a 13-point deficit to three points on C.J. Miles' 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third. They opened the quarter by outscoring the Lakers 19-8, helped by five in a row by Brewer.

But the Lakers repelled the threat. Andrew Bynum's one-handed block sent Williams sprawling to the court, then Williams missed and Miles committed two consecutive turnovers while the Lakers kept converting on each possession.

By the end of the third, Los Angeles extended its lead to 81-66 with a 17-4 run during which the Jazz was held without a field goal and Sloan and Williams received technicals during separate timeouts.

Bryant rested the first 5 minutes of the second, with the Lakers building their largest lead of 20 points as he watched from the bench. He made his presence felt upon returning by scoring off a driving dunk and hitting a 3-pointer that made it 53-33. Gasol scored the Lakers' final four points that sent them into halftime with a 57-43 lead.

The Lakers built a 17-point lead in the opening quarter behind 55 percent field-goal shooting. The Jazz hit just 8-of-22 with Okur scoring 10 points while playing all 12 minutes.

Game notes
The Lakers' 37 points in the first quarter were a season high. ... The arena lights went out for a split-second early in the fourth quarter. Public address announcer Lawrence Tanter got a laugh when he wished the crowd "Happy New Year" as soon as they came back on. ... Jazz F Carlos Boozer is set for arthroscopic left knee surgery on Jan. 9. ... Former Laker Rick Fox was a pregame visitor to his old team's locker room, sharing an embrace with coach Phil Jackson. Fox, a regular on the CW show "The Game," also does some TV commentary.