Lakers Go Vintage for Another Home Win vs. Wolves
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- As the Los Angeles Lakers paid tribute
to their past, they reminded everyone they are just as good now
as they were then.
Wearing throwback uniforms to honor their dynastic days in
Minneapolis, the Lakers cruised to a 96-83 victory over the
Minnesota Timberwolves as superstars Shaquille O'Neal
combined for 60 points.
The two-time defending NBA champions traded in their traditional
home colors of gold and forum blue for powder blue with gold
trim. Across the front, the uniforms read "MPLS." -- an
abbreviation for the city they occupied until moving west in
"I thought they felt a little goofy in their uniforms at first
because it wasn't their normal, natural color," Lakers coach
Phil Jackson said. "But they settled in all right."
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Kobe Bryant busted out a headband, and scored 18 of his 28 points in the first half.
"It was fun," guard Derek Fisher
said. "You're so used to
seeing the purple and gold, the same thing night in and night
out. It was a great thing for our organization to recognize,
the history from where all things started."
Led by towering center George Mikan, Minneapolis was the NBA's
first dynasty, winning five titles in six years from 1949-54.
Mikan formed an overpowering frontcourt with Vern Mikkelsen and
Jim Pollard and was on hand for a banner-raising ceremony at
Joining them were forward Clyde Lovellette, guard Slater "Dugie"
Martin and coach John Kundla. They were congratulated by
former LA Lakers Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, James
Worthy, Bill Sharman and Elgin Baylor, the only one of the
group to play in both cities.
Powder blue banners honoring the players, coach and titles were
hoisted to the rafters of the Staples Center. The current
Lakers came out early for the halftime warmups to meet the stars
of the team's past.
"They were curious about the Lakers of old," Jackson said.
"They met them cordially and shook hands with the guys and
talked to them individually."
"It gives you a little history lesson," guard Lindsey Hunter
said. "You get to see guys that set the foundation for what
we're doing now. It was nice to see some of the forefathers of
the league and some of the greatest players ever out there."
O'Neal and Bryant looked odd in the retro uniforms until they
started playing. O'Neal scored 32 points on 13-of-19 shooting
as he overpowered Minnesota's big men. Bryant added 28 points,
making 9-of-20 shots and 10-of-10 free throws.
"I'm from the old school. I like them nice and big," said
Bryant, who added a gold headband. "It takes me back to my AAU
days in high school. It felt good and I was joking around with
the guys and said I'd throw in the headband. I liked it,
The Lakers (55-23) won their 13th straight home game and stayed
in the hunt for the Pacific Division title and best record in
the Western Conference. Another loss or a win by Sacramento
relegates Los Angeles to no better than the third seed.
scored 18 points for the Timberwolves (48-31),
whose futility in LA against the Lakers continued. They have
lost 16 straight visits since March 5, 1993. Minnesota remained
two games ahead of sixth-place Portland in the West.
"When you have to play the Lakers, you have to change everything
you do so much because of Kobe and Shaq and that makes it
extremely difficult," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "As I
told everyone, until someone can prove that they can beat LA in
either a five- or seven-game series, they're going to be the
team that you have to go through to beat."
Minnesota hung around for a quarter, forging a 20-20 tie. A
3-pointer by Robert Horry
gave LA the lead for good at 26-24
with 9:37 left in the second period.
In the quarter, Bryant scored 10 points as the Lakers shot 53
percent (9-of-17), held the Wolves to 33 percent (6-of-18),
forced seven turnovers while committing one and opened a 46-34
Jumpers by Bryant and O'Neal capped an 11-1 run and widened the
advantage to 71-52 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Minnesota got no closer than seven points thereafter.
Fisher scored 14 points and Samaki Walker
swept 10 boards for
the Lakers, who shot 45.5 percent (35-of-77) and committed just
and former Laker Anthony Peeler
points each for the Wolves, who shot just 33 percent (27-of-81)
and missed 12-of-36 free throws.