Lakers silence Thunder to set up Jazz showdown

OKLAHOMA CITY, (Reuters) – Pau Gasol’s last gasp  tip-in helped the Los Angeles Lakers eliminate the Oklahoma  City Thunder and set up a Western Conference semi-final against  the Utah Jazz, who battled past the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Gasol put in a missed Kobe Bryant jumper with less than a  second to play to give the defending champion Lakers a 95-94  Game Six victory and a 4-2 series triumph against a tenacious  Thunder team.

Utah advanced by securing a 112-104 victory over the Denver  Nuggets with a dominant Carlos Boozer leading the way with 22  points and 20 rebounds.

The best-of-seven series starts today in Los Angeles,  where the Jazz have lost 14 consecutive games to the Lakers.

Bryant had 32 points for the Lakers, who survived Russell  Westbrook’s missed three-pointer at the buzzer to win a tougher  than expected series against the eighth seeds.

“Fortunately, Pau didn’t quit on the (winning) play,”  Bryant told reporters. “He just kept playing.”

Gasol, the Lakers’ Spanish power forward, scored only nine  points in the game but had 18 rebounds with the last one putting him in position to win the game.

“He had a wide lane, and we didn’t do a good job of putting a body on him,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We had four guys in there.”

11-0 RUN

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 26 points and Westbrook  had 21 as Oklahoma City fought back from a seven-point fourth  quarter deficit to take a 94-91 lead on 10 consecutive points.

Bryant’s jumper with two minutes to play cut the advantage  to a point and after a series of missed shots by both teams,  the Lakers guard grabbed a defensive rebound and launched a  13-footer with a second left, leading to Gasol’s winning  tip-in.

At Salt Lake City, the Jazz went on an 11-0 run midway the  fourth quarter to claim the series 4-2 despite losing starters  Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur to injuries. Wesley Matthews  backed up Boozer with 23 points.

Chauncey Billups led Denver with 30 points but team mate  Carmelo Anthony made just six-of-22 shots to finish with 20  points.

Earlier, the Atlanta Hawks staved off elimination by  beating the Milwaukee Bucks 83-69 to tie their Eastern  Conference series at 3-3. Game Seven is in Atlanta today.

Jamal Crawford had 24 points and Joe Johnson 22 for the  Hawks.

Milwaukee led by three at the half, but went flat in the  third, scoring only 11 points, as Atlanta built a 20-point  lead.

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