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Jazz tune back into LA series

DERON Williams drained a last-second jumper to give the Utah Jazz an 88-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Salt Lake City on Thursday, breathing new life into their playoff series after two heavy defeats.

Power forward Carlos Boozer led the charge with 23 points and 22 rebounds, matching a team playoff-record, as the Jazz cut the top-seeded Lakers' lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference quarterfinal showdown.

"Now we're back in the series, we've put a little fear in them and we have to back it up on Saturday (for Game 4)," Boozer told reporters. "The key to the game was we only gave them 86 points. That's why we won the game."

Lamar Odom had 21 points and Pau Gasol added 20 for the Lakers, while All-Star guard Kobe Bryant struggled on a 5-for-24 shooting performance.

Bryant had a 30-foot three-pointer attempt at the buzzer that grazed the rim.

"Everybody goes through a game once in a while like this," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of his lead guard.

"A lot of things didn't go right for him tonight, but he made some big plays down the stretch that gave us a chance to win."

Los Angeles trailed for most of the game before controlling the third quarter 29-17 to take a 68-60 lead into the final session.

Utah responded with a 14-2 spurt midway through the final quarter to claim a 76-72 edge with 6:31 remaining.

Over in the East, the Boston Celtics eased to a comprehensive 107-86 road victory over the Chicago Bulls, the dominant win giving the defending National Basketball Association champions a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

In sharp contrast to the nail-biting contests in Boston earlier this week, the second seeds cruised past a lackluster Bulls side to grab their first lead in the best-of-seven quarterfinal showdown.

"Obviously I was thrilled with the way we played," Boston head coach Doc Rivers said.

"I thought our guys came out with a great defensive focus, they made great shots, and we had great energy, all game."

Veteran forward Paul Pierce top-scored for Boston with 24 points and four other Celtics reached double figures in a balanced team effort in Chicago.

Point guard Rajon Rondo recorded 20 points, 11 rebounds and six assists despite a nagging ankle injury.

Ben Gordon had 15 and John Salmons chipped in 14 for the Bulls, who shot just 37 percent from the field.

In the night's other Western Conference game, the Dallas Mavericks stifled the visiting San Antonio Spurs 88-67 to take a 2-1 advantage in that series.

Dirk Nowitzki notched a game-high 20 points and the Mavericks held the Spurs to 32 percent shooting and a playoff franchise-low in scoring.

"You can't let your offense affect your defense," San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said after leading his team with 12 points.

"If you don't make shots you have to play defense, otherwise we have no chance of beating Dallas."

Tim Duncan sputtered in just 16 minutes of play with just four points and two rebounds. Josh Howard recorded nine of his 17 points in the third quarter where the Mavericks turned the game into a blowout.


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