LOS ANGELES — So that’s what Kobe Bryant meant when he said Oklahoma City had definitely caught the mighty Lakers’ attention.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Bynum added 21 points and Los Angeles vigorously rebounded from back-to-back losses with a 111-87 victory over the Thunder on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Bryant had 13 points and seven assists in three quarters of work as the defending NBA champions coolly shook off the eighth-seeded Thunder’s series-tying blowout win in Game 4 with a comprehensive thrashing of the postseason newcomers.
With their offense purring and their defense throttling Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Lakers led by 21 points at halftime and went ahead by 32 late in the third quarter of their third home victory in the series.
“This is the kind of game we can play when we’re executing well on both ends of the court,” said Bynum, who set a career playoff scoring high. “We need to try to close it out now, and not be satisfied with this.”
Game 6 is Friday night in Oklahoma City, where the top-seeded Lakers will attempt to reach the Western Conference semifinals for the third straight year.
Durant scored 17 points and Westbrook had 15 on combined 9-for-27 shooting for Oklahoma City, which never recovered after missing its first 13 shots.
“I wish I could say why, but they kicked our butts from the beginning,” Durant said. “They had some dunks early on and got the fans excited, and they just kind of cruised from there. It was tough to come back.”
Cavaliers 96, Bulls 94
CLEVELAND — LeBron James just missed a triple-double despite an apparently sore right elbow, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to a playoff date with Boston by beating Chicago 96-94 in Game 5 on Tuesday night in perhaps Vinny Del Negro’s final game as Bulls coach.
James, favoring a tender right elbow that appears to hurt worse than he’s letting on, scored 19 points — 16 in the second half — and added 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavs finally saddled the stubborn Bulls to win the series 4-1. Unable to lift his right arm, James was forced to shoot a free throw left-handed with 7.8 seconds left.
Celtics 96, Heat 86
BOSTON — Ray Allen scored 24 points, making five 3-pointers in the second half, to help Boston eliminate Miami in Game 5.
Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals thanks to 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds from Rajon Rondo. Paul Pierce scored 21 for the Celtics, who will play Cleveland next.
Mavericks 103, Spurs 81
DALLAS — Caron Butler scored a career playoff-best 35 points and had 11 rebounds, Brendan Haywood provided a strong inside presence at both ends in his first start of this postseason, and Dallas stayed alive by beating San Antonio in Game 5.
The Spurs still lead the series 3-2, giving the veteran club two more chances to get into the second round. Game 6 is Thursday at San Antonio. Just eight teams have ever blown a 3-1 lead.
Crawford wins 6th man award
ATLANTA — Jamal Crawford already got what he wanted most — a trip to the playoffs.
On Tuesday, the Seattle native picked up an extra reward for his unselfishness.
After willingly accepting a backup role for the first time in his career, the Atlanta Hawks guard was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in a landslide.
Crawford won the award going away with 580 of a possible 610 points, including 110 out of 122 first-place votes. Fellow Seattle native Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks, last year’s Sixth Man winner, finished second this time with 220 points.