Kobe, Lakers punch ticket back to NBA Finals
One-half of the Kobe-LeBron dream matchup is set.
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are in the NBA finals for the second straight year and record 30th time overall.
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will need to win two more wins to join them. Otherwise, it will be Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on the league's biggest stage.
Not as sexy for Madison Ave., but certainly intriguing.
Bryant and the Lakers dispatched Carmelo Anthony and the pesky Denver Nuggets with a 119-92 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night.
"We saved our best game for last here, or maybe we caught our opponent a little bit off stride," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who gets a shot at his record 10th title.
Bryant had 35 points and 10 assists and got plenty of scoring help from Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom as the Lakers shot 57.3 percent from the field to avoid having to play a Game 7 back at the Staples Center.
They will finally get some much-needed rest after playing every other day for a grueling two weeks.
These Lakers, who are seeking their 15th title, are a more grizzled group - but also more bruised and battered - than the one that fell to Boston in the finals last year.