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Bryant gets some help as Lakers oust Hornets

NEW ORLEANS -- Kobe Bryant scored 22 of his 24 points in the first three quarters, then let his Lakers teammates take over in a dominant 98-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night that clinched the series for Los Angeles in six games.

Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Pau Gasol chipped in 16 points for the two-time defending champions, who led by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter to provide an anticlimactic ending to what had been a more exciting series than many expected.

Chris Paul, who helped the Hornets split the first four games with two sensational performances, wasn't able to deliver the Hornets a third victory. He finished with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.


Hawks advance too

ATLANTA -- Joe Johnson provided his usual offensive spark. His biggest play, though, was getting a hand on a missed shot.

Johnson scored 23 points and came up with a huge offensive rebound, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 84-81 victory in Game Six, knocking the Orlando Magic out of the playoffs.

The Hawks, who won the series, 4-2, advanced to the second round for the third straight year, this time against top-seeded Chicago.

The Magic, who routed Atlanta a year ago in the most lopsided four-game sweep in NBA history, head into an uncertain offseason after their earliest playoff ouster since 2007.

With Atlanta clinging to a one-point lead and the clock running down, Marvin Williams missed a clinching 3-pointer. But Johnson swatted the rebound to Jamal Crawford, who was fouled and made both free throws with 8.2 seconds left.

"I just crashed the glass and tried to somehow get a hand on it. I did," Johnson said.

The Magic had two chances to force overtime. J.J. Redick missed an open three, then Jason Richardson had a desperation shot from the corner blocked by Josh Smith.


Today's game

*The Grizzlies came close to eliminating the Spurs on Wednesday, as San Antonio tied the game at the end of regulation and won in overtime. They'll try again, this time at home, tonight (9 p.m., ESPN).

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