By KEVIN HICKMANAssociated PressNBA star Kobe Bryant scored 20 points and added nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 96-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
It was a big night for Lakers coach Mike Brown.
The Lakers were up three with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, and Brown was left with no other option than to go with the team that had won the previous three playoff games and a 3-2 lead in the series.
Bryant, who was on the bench in Milwaukee, scored 19 points, with 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in the Lakers’ 105-93 victory.
The Bucks, which lost their second straight game, were coming off a 116-105 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Bucks center Marcus Morris scored a team-high 18 points and center Khris Middleton added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Bucs guard Jason Kidd had 12 points and four assists for Milwaukee, which is trying to avoid a fifth straight playoff loss to Milwaukee.
The Bucks, who had lost four straight before the series opener, lost their last two regular season games and lost their first playoff game in franchise history to the Miami Heat.
The last time the Bucks lost in the Western Conference finals was March 10, 2010, when they lost to the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers (40-11) had a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter and had been leading by as many as 13 before the Lakers made the final 15-point shot in the final 4:33.
Kidd’s dunk gave Milwaukee a 63-56 lead with 1:30 left.
The Jazz, who trailed by as much as 11, shot just 2 of 12 and committed six turnovers in the first half.
Miles Plumlee, who scored 19 against the Thunder on Thursday, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers.
He was 9 of 16 from the field.
Kerr Clarkson, who made 6 of 14 shots against the Bucks, had eight points, six rebounds and five assists.
Clarkson also had three blocks and an assist in 12 minutes.
Baylor Johnson scored 18 points for the Bucks.
He had four points and six rebounds.
Johnson’s layup gave the Bucks a 56-46 lead with 2:19 left.
The Pistons beat the Lakers on Monday by outscoring them 45-29 in the paint.
Detroit is 5-0 in games decided by 10 or more points.
The Warriors, who have won four of five, beat the Cavs on Thursday.
Golden State won its fourth straight home game and sixth straight overall.
They beat Cleveland 106-104 on Saturday.
Lakers forward DeMarcus Cousins scored 23 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to help the Lakers win for the sixth time in the past seven games.
Cousins also added 12 rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 in his third straight game with double-digit points, and the Spurs outscored the Lakers 27-8 in the quarter.
Nowitzkin had 18 points in the half.
The Cavaliers led by as few as eight points before the game, when Milwaukee made a 16-2 run in the closing seconds.
The teams traded baskets in the period, with the Bucks leading 63-50 at halftime.
Kelvin Price scored 21 points for Milwaukee.
He scored 11 of his points in a span of 4:18, the shortest span in a game this season.
Price also had five rebounds and two assists.
Price had 10 assists against the Lakers, his fourth straight game scoring at least 20 points.
The Milwaukee guard had a team high five steals against the Jazz on Thursday and has 12 assists in five games against the Cavs.
Kobe Bryant scored a career-high 19 points in his fifth game of the season.
Bryant scored 17 in a 99-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley with 18 points.
Conley is averaging 23.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in his last four games.
He is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, but has averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 assists in his previous seven.
He has averaged 19.3 and 5 points in seven games against Cleveland.
The Pacers have lost six of seven and eight of nine.
The Cavs have lost five straight.