Minnesota 96, L.A. Lakers 80
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 17 (Ticker) --
Everything is not Zen for the Los
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scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead a
balanced attack as the Minnesota Timberwolves took control
early and routed the reeling Lakers, 96-80.
The Timberwolves used a 24-8 run spanning the first and second
quarters to tuck away Los Angeles, which only briefly got back
within single digits thereafter.
scored just six of his 17 points in the second
half and Kobe Bryant
added 15 points for the struggling Lakers,
who fell to 2-11 on the road and lost the opener on what they
hoped would be a watershed four-game trip.
"I can't pinpoint what the problem is, it's just the consistency
that's missing," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "And you can
see our chemistry is not good when the bottom falls out right
The road trip gets no easier for the Lakers, who visit New
Jersey and Philadelphia before finishing at Toronto.
"We can still have a successful trip, I don't see any reason why
we can't come back and win the last three," Bryant said. "Our
confidence is a little low, but I don't think that's the issue.
I think teams are just playing better than us. I think they are
a little hungrier than us some nights."
The Timberwolves got a healthy contribution from their bench.
scored 13 points, former Laker Anthony Peeler
added 10 apiece and Joe Smith
grabbed a game-high
13 rebounds as Minnesota's reserves outscored Los Angeles',
"Our bench was good," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "It's
the first time Rod has played well at home. He has played well
on the road this season, but not at home. A.P. made some big
shots and Joe gave us another big night on the glass."
The Timberwolves made their move early.
After Rick Fox
hit a jumper to cut the deficit to 18-17 with
3:10 left in the opening period, Smith hit a layup and Garnett
sank a short runner and a reverse layup for some breathing room.
Leading 26-18 after one, Minnesota went on a 19-7 run to take a
45-25 advantage on Gary Trent's
tip-in with 4:14 to go. Peeler
had eight points in the burst, including a pair of 3-pointers.
O'Neal was held to two points on 1-of-3 shooting after scoring
nine in the first quarter. Bryant also missed 3-of-4 shots and
netted two points in the quarter as the Lakers shot 36 percent
in the second period and trailed 51-38 at halftime.
"I don't think that (his and O'Neal's lack of scoring) that's an
important issue here, I can score anytime I want to," Bryant
said. "Me going out and scoring 50, or Shaq going out and
scoring 50, isn't going to help us. We need a team effort."
Bryant was 6-of-14 from the field.
"My plan was to make him work," T-Wolves guard Kendall Gill
said. "He's so good, he's going to get his points. You have to
make him work hard for them."
scored 10 points as the Timberwolves shot 51
percent (41-of-80) from the floor. Troy Hudson
had 10 assists,
Strickland six and Peeler five as Minnesota moved the ball well,
dishing out 32 assists to the Lakers' 23.
"We beat a good team, we're not going to let anything diminish
what we did," Garnett said.
Bryant and Los Angeles showed signs of life in the third, as the
guard scored four points in a 12-6 run that cut the deficit to
57-50 after Robert Horry's
3-pointer with 7:45 to go.
But buckets by Nesterovic and Garnett around Bryant's jumper
gave the Timberwolves a 61-52 lead and Trent restored the
double-digit advantage with a layup.
Leading 68-57 after three, Minnesota scored 12 of the first 16
points of the fourth en route to its third win in four games.