Minnesota 112, L.A. Lakers 101
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 27 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett
had 33 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-101, and moved 21 games above .500 for the first time in franchise history.
Chauncey Billups added 30 points, making 7-of-8 3-pointers, and handed out 11 assists for the Timberwolves (39-18), who won their third straight game and moved within a half-game of the Lakers (39-17) for third place in the Western Conference.
"I got some open looks and they went down," said Billups, who tied Stephon Marbury's team record for consecutive 3-pointers made (7), set at Seattle on December 23, 1997. "I said I would keep shooting because they were giving me two steps. They kept doing it, so I kept doing it."
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Kevin Garnett played tall against the Lakers.
Los Angeles led early, 6-2, but Minnesota quickly bounced back, taking the lead for good at 14-13 on Billups' first 3-pointer with 6:05 left in the quarter.
Minnesota led, 30-22, after one quarter and stretched its advantage to 60-47 at the break.
The Lakers got to 67-64 on a 3-pointer by Lindsey Hunter with 7:51 to go in the third quarter, but Garnett hit a fadeaway jumper, Billups sank a 3-pointer and Garnett scored on a dunk to stretch the advantage to 74-64 with 5:59 remaining.
Minnesota took an 87-76 edge into the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles got no closer than 89-82 on an alley-oop dunk from Devean George with 8:59 remaining.
"We came out with great energy and really controlled the tempo of the game after the first four minutes," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We did a lot of things offensively. Garnett was great. Chauncey was great -- 30 points, seven straight threes and 11 assists. He played with a lot of confidence. It was a great team win."
Shaquille O'Neal had 27 points, including 11-of-15 free throws, and eight rebounds in the loss.
"I don't think they're going to get away with what they were doing tonight when they're not on their home court," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Stuffing the lane on Shaq, I think that's pretty obvious. He shot a lot of foul shots tonight, but he could've been on the line twice as much as he was."
Kobe Bryant scored 20 points but had just four in the second half for the Lakers, who concluded a five-game road trip at 4-1. Bryant had 11 assists but finished 8-of-25 from the field.
"Four-and-one -- that's not a bad road trip," Bryant said. "I'm pleased with that. It seems like we made our runs, but we didn't seem to quite have our legs tonight to complete the runs."
"They did a good job on (Bryant)," Jackson said. "He missed some real easy shots in the first half. He got the ball into Shaq and he did some things there, but every time he didn't convert in there, they would run on us. That was pretty tough on us. He got 11 assists, he moved the ball and did some things that were good, but he didn't have a good night tonight."
The Timberwolves improved to 23-4 at the Target Center, the league's second-best home mark behind Sacramento's 28-2. It was Minnesota's second win in three games against the Lakers this season, with both victories coming at home.
"The West is definitely pretty cluttered up there at the top of the standings," said Rick Fox, who started and played 25 minutes but was limited to two points. "Anyone can come out of there at the end of the next two months. It will be interesting to see it played out."