Lakers, Magic ease into Conference semis

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic swept past their respective first round opponents the Denver Nuggets and the Toronto Raptors, while the Atlanta Hawks are now tied 2-2 against best regular season team the Boston Celtics.


NEW YORK - Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and added seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 107-101 victory over the Denver Nuggets and into the second round of the NBA playoffs on Monday.


Denver had rallied from a 13-point deficit to close to within two points after three quarters before Bryant took control of the game and scored 14 points in the final five minutes.


The victory ensured a 4-0 sweep for the Lakers.


"They really did a good job in the third quarter just denying me all over the place, but we made our adjustments and we were able to make them pay in the fourth quarter," Bryant told reporters.


Bryant, who suffered several injuries throughout the series said he was glad his team was able to win in four games.


"It's extremely important to get home, get some rest and treatment, and get ready for the next round," said Bryant.


"In the West there are no easy match-ups at all, whoever comes out of that round, we're looking forward to whoever we face," he added of either Houston or Utah, their potential second round opponents.


Pau Gasol had 21 points for the Lakers, while Lamar Odom chipped in with 14 points and 12 rebounds.


J.R. Smith scored 26 points, Allen Iverson added 22 and Carmelo Anthony had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets.


In other NBA action, the Atlanta Hawks shocked the Boston Celtics for the second straight game with a 97-92 victory.


Joe Johnson scored 35 points and Josh Smith added 28 for the Hawks, who tied the best-of-seven series 2-2 after being blown out in the first two games of the series in Boston.


Ray Allen scored 21 points and Kevin Garnett had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who were out-scored 32-17 in the fourth quarter.


"Give the Hawks credit," Boston coach Doc Rivers told reporters. "This series hasn't started yet, because no one has won a road game.


"It's a tough loss for us, but we get a chance to take it back to Boston and see what we can do."


In Orlando, the Magic advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in 12 years with a 102-92 win over the Toronto Raptors.


Dwight Howard had 21 points and 21 rebounds as the Magic won the opening round series 4-1.


Jameer Nelson scored 19 points for Orlando and Rashard Lewis had 18 points and 13 rebounds.



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