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While you were sleeping: LA Lakers show their class

WATCH: Catch up on the NBA play-off action as Kobe leads LA to the conference decider.

Lakers center Andrew Bynum, left, dunks on the New Orleans Hornets last night.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum, left, dunks on the New Orleans Hornets last night.
Image: AP

Result: LA Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets, 98-80

What that means: Kobe and the Lakers seal the series, they’ll now face the Dallas Mavericks. The season ends for New Orleans

How it happened: Andrew Bynum used his massive frame to own the lane, Kobe Bryant made timely shots that silenced a hostile crowd, and the Los Angeles Lakers started to look a lot more like a team trying to win a third straight title.

Bryant scored 22 of his 24 points in the first three quarters, then let his teammates take over in a dominant 98-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets last night that wrapped up a first-round playoff series triumph for Los Angeles in six games.

The performance left coach Phil Jackson saying his current squad has the “potential to be as good as any team I’ve coached with the Lakers.”

“We’re good at making adjustments and learning,” Bryant said.

“So the more a series goes on, the more we learn. That comes from our coaching staff. That comes from us and the amount of experience we have, being able to pick teams apart the later we go in a series.”

The Lakers move on to the second round, facing the Dallas Mavericks, who eliminated Portland in six games. Game 1 will be Monday at Staples Center.

The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds, drawing groans from the New Orleans crowd with each of his eight offensive rebounds. His ability to clean up teammates’ misses and extend possessions helped Los Angeles gain a lopsided 21-4 advantage in second-chance points.

“Every time he got an offensive rebound, it was deflating,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “You don’t really realize how good he is until you face him in a series. Kobe’s Kobe, but I thought Bynum decided the series. He was that good.”

Pau Gasol chipped in 16 points and Lamar Odom 14 for the Lakers, whose overpowering fourth quarter provided an anticlimactic ending to what had initially been a more exciting series than many expected.

Gavin Cooney
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Roll on Monday night in LA.

-additional reporting AP

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