LOS ANGELES So much for Kobe Bryant's sore lower back.
Bryant scored 26 points, his teammates kept Utah at bay down the stretch, and Los Angeles Lakers extended the stunning home success by NBA teams in the second round of the playoffs, beating the Jazz 111-104 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Lakers, who never trailed, can advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 with a victory Friday night in Utah. But if form prevails, the teams will be playing a seventh and deciding game Monday night at Staples Center, where Los Angeles has a 17-3 record against the Jazz since the arena opened before the 1999-2000 season.
Home teams have won 19 of the 20 games played in the second round. The Lakers are the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, meaning they have home-court advantage through the first three rounds of the postseason.
"That's what you play for," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said before the game. "When you start off the season, you want to try and get the home-court advantage because I think it's been pretty big in this league."