Lakers Oust '07 Champ Spurs
LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers dispatched the defending champions and are headed to the NBA finals for the first time in four years. Bryant scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat the San Antonio Spurs 100-92 on Thursday night and win the Western Conference finals in five games. The Lakers are 12-3 in the playoffs, including 8-0 at Staples Center, where they haven't lost in two months. They get a week off before opening the NBA finals Thursday night at Boston or Detroit. The Celtics lead the Eastern Conference finals 3-2 with Game 6 on Friday night.Pau Gasol had 12 points, a career playoff-high 19 rebounds and five assists for the Lakers. Tony Parker scored 23 points for the Spurs and Tim Duncan had 19 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. BULLS: While sources have confirmed former Bulls coach Doug Collins is expected to become the new Bulls coach, GM John Paxson said no agreement is in place. PISTONS: A decision will be made today whether leading scorer Richard Hamilton (strained right elbow) can play tonight. Also, Rasheed Wallace was fined $25,000 by the NBA for using profanity and criticizing the officiating after a playoff game Wednesday.