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Recap Rewind: Lakers punch ticket to NBA Finals for third straight year

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Another dominant outing from Kobe Bryant saved the Lakers from going to a Game 7 against the Suns.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, Game 6 Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Editor’s note: Until the NBA season returns, we’ll be recapping every classic Lakers game that is televised or live-streamed in a series we’re calling Recap Rewind.

After closing out their series against the Phoenix Suns on the road on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the NBA Finals for the third time in three years, and they have their fearless leader Kobe Bryant to thank for it.

The Lakers were in control for most of Saturday’s game, leading from the 7:47 mark of the second quarter to the final buzzer. Going into the final frame, the Lakers held 17-point lead, a point shy of their largest lead of the game.

While some teams may have hung their heads at that point, the Suns were determined to make one final push, and they did by going on a 16-4 to start the fourth quarter. The Lakers had no answer for the two-man game between Amar’e Stoudemire and Goran Dragic, the latter of whom scored all eight of his second half points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.

In an effort to stop the bleeding, Phil Jackson subbed in Bryant early in the fourth quarter. Bryant tried to get his teammates going, but the Suns’ front court of Stoudemire, Channing Frye and Jared Dudley suffocated the Lakers with their size on both ends of the floor. Once Steve Nash entered the game for Dragic, the Suns were able to pull within two points.

The Lakers needed a breath of life, and they got one from Bryant.

In the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, Bryant scored 11 of his 14 fourth quarter points. He ended the night with 37 points on 12-25 shooting from the field. For the series, he averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

No one does it alone, but Bryant’s more than capable of doing so when he feels like he needs to do.

The Lakers will begin their road to redemption against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.