LOS ANGELES - The Lakers celebrated the Western Conference championship before their adoring fans at Staples Center, but not too hard.
They've got one more goal to reach before the real excitement begins.
Kobe Bryant scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, 100-92, last night and win the conference finals in five games.
They get a week off before opening the NBA Finals next Thursday night at Boston or Detroit.
"I think it is a tremendous accomplishment," Bryant said. "I think the West is extremely tough. We're all extremely excited and proud about it. Now, it's time to go on and see if we can't finish it off."
The Lakers are 12-3 in the playoffs, including 8-0 at Staples Center, where they haven't lost in two months. They have won 14 straight home games and 21 of their last 24 postseason games at home.
"My heart's still pumping, that adrenaline is still running from the game," said Lamar Odom, who had 13 points and eight rebounds. "Maybe when I sit down and have something to eat, I'll realize what just happened.
"We came out here, played our game, and won. It's satisfying, but one more step."
A basket by Odom gave the Lakers an 83-76 lead with 5:40 remaining, but a 3-pointer by Brent Barry and a basket by Tony Parker drew the Spurs within 2 points. Manu Ginobili missed a 3-pointer that could have given San Antonio the lead before Bryant's jumper with 3:33 to play made it 85-81.
A foul shot by Tim Duncan drew the Spurs within 3, but two more baskets by Bryant made it 89-82 with 1:47 to play, and the Spurs weren't closer than 5 points after that.
Pau Gasol had 12 points, a career playoff-high 19 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocked shots.
Parker scored 23 points and Duncan had 19 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists for the Spurs. Michael Finley scored 13 points, Barry and Kurt Thomas added 11 each, and Ginobili was held to 9, shooting just 3 for 9.
"Just got to gear it up again to go to next year," Duncan said. "Love what we had this year. We just weren't good enough through stretches."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has won nine championships, tied for the NBA record with former Boston coach Red Auerbach.
"I like not to get involved personally in this and think of this as a team effort," he said about what playing in the NBA Finals means to him. "As much as I appreciate the league trying to emphasize the Western Conference trophy, that doesn't mean too much when that big prize is still out there.
"We look at both those opponents [Boston and Detroit] with a great deal of respect and know that we have a great, great hill to climb to be able to finish in the Finals and win."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pointed to his team's offense - and the Lakers' defense - as the keys to the series.
"I thought we did a fine job," he said. "We just didn't muster the offense, for a variety of reasons. The fact that we didn't come through offensively is a disappointment, but part of that is a credit to the Lakers."