NBA Playoffs: Lakers, Mavs, Hawks Advance
The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks closed out their respective first-round series on Thursday to set up a clash in the second round, while the Atlanta Hawks earned a date with the Chicago Bulls after eliminating the Orlando Magic.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points while Andrew Bynum added 18 and 12 rebounds as the Lakers dominated the New Orleans Hornets in Game 6, 98-80, to win the series 4-2. Bryant scored 22 points in the first three quarters then watched from the bench as the Lakers led by as many as 21 in the final period en route to the victory that secured their place in the second round.
The Lakers will face the Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals starting Monday after Dallas eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers with a 103-96 victory in Game 6. Dirk Nowitzki had a double-double with 33 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks scored a rare postseason victory on the road. Dallas is 2-18 on the road in the postseason since the 2006 NBA Finals, when they lost to the Miami Heat, 4-2.
Meanwhile, the Hawks escaped with an 84-81 victory over the Magic in Game 6 to advance to the second round for the third-straight year. Joe Johnson scored 23 points and tapped an offensive rebound to Jamal Crawford late in the game to help the Hawks avenge their humiliating second-round loss to the Magic last year. Atlanta lost by an average of more than 25 points in four-straight games against Orlando last year in what is considered the most lopsided sweep in NBA Playoff history.