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Kobe scores 40, Lakers beat Jazz 102-95
Updated: 2005-02-16 15:41

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points in his second game back from an ankle injury, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 102-95 victory over Utah on Tuesday night.

Chucky Atkins added 24 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 96-95 lead with 54 seconds remaining. They stayed in front the rest of the way, pulling away in the closing moments on free throws.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (L) celebrates with Slava Medvedenko of Ukraine during the fourth quarter of the Lakers 102-95 win over the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles February 15, 2005. Bryant was the high scorer with 40 points. [Reuters]
Bryant went 12-of-19 from the floor and 15-of-19 from the line, had eight assists and five rebounds.

Caron Butler added 23 points for Los Angeles, which ran off a 12-2 run to end the game.

Reserve Mehmet Okur had 20 points for Utah as the Jazz reserves outscored the Lakers' bench 50-2. Another reserve, Howard Eisley, had 14 points and nine assists.

Starter Matt Harpring had 18 points for Utah.

The game was Bryant's first at home since he sprained his ankle more than a month ago. His first game back was in Sunday's 103-89 loss at Cleveland, when he scored 26 points on 7-of-22 shooting.

Utah was missing its top two scorers, Carlos Boozer (17.8 points per game) and Andrei Kirilenko (14.6). Both were sidelined by sprained right ankles, hurt in a 136-128 loss to Phoenix on Monday.

Without that pair, the combined scoring average for the five starters against the Lakers was a paltry 37.4 points a game.

Slava Medvedenko got his first start of the season for Los Angeles, filling in for Lamar Odom, and had seven points and nine rebounds. The Lakers said Odom had a virus, but should be fine in a couple of days.

After trailing 62-49 four minutes into the third quarter, Los Angeles closed to 74-71 by the end of the period. Bryant got the Lakers fired up when he was hacked on his right arm driving to the basket, switched the ball to his left hand and lobbed the ball through the hoop.

After showboating a bit by staring at his left palm and feinting disbelief, Bryant made the free throw to cut the lead to 68-64.

The Jazz led 48-44 at halftime, thanks to balanced scoring by eight players, led by Okur's 11 points. The Lakers, meanwhile, got 19 points from Bryant and a total of 25 from everyone else.

The Lakers shot out to an 18-10 lead in the opening nine minutes, but the Jazz reeled off a 10-string over the final 2:37 of the quarter to go ahead 20-18.

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