MINNEAPOLIS, March 14 (Ticker) -- With some raising the premise that the Los Angeles Lakers were slumping again, Shaquille O'Neal got defensive.

O'Neal had five blocks and anchored a strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter as the Lakers held on for a 106-99 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves that snapped a two-game slide.

NBA TV highlights from
56k | 300k
The three-time defending champion Lakers have had an erratic season. In the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, they began a four-game trip with dispiriting losses at Chicago and Detroit.

Facing a team that had won 17 of its last 18 home games, the Lakers rediscovered their winning ways in unfamiliar fashion. O'Neal, whose nagging injuries have made him somewhat of a defensive liability, controlled the interior in the final period, when Minnesota made just 6-of-23 shots.

"We just wanted to get back on track," O'Neal said. "Our last two efforts were not good enough. We needed to get a win."

O'Neal also had 26 points, 15 rebounds and six assists in a terrific all-around game. He took advantage of the absence of Minnesota 7-footer Rasho Nesterovic, who left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Derek Fisher added 21 and both made clutch shots down the stretch for Los Angeles.

"Shaq was big for us," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Kobe isn't feeling well but gave us a good effort, and we made big plays down the stretch."

"I fought chills the whole game," Bryant said. "I personally wanted to save my energy for the fourth quarter, when we needed it most."

The Lakers had 11 blocks and 12 steals. Bryant, Fisher and Robert Horry each had three steals and Horry blocked three shots.

"We were very active," Bryant said. "We had very active hands. We did a great job contesting shots."

Minnesota All-Star forward Kevin Garnett had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading 57th double-double. But he committed five of his team's 15 turnovers and had just one basket in the final period.

"We had too many careless turnovers," Garnett said. "They're just too good to have too many turnovers against. Twelve steals for them is a lot."

"You're not going to win very many games when you turn it over as much as we did," Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said.

The Lakers took the lead for good at 76-75 on a hook by O'Neal with 3:19 left in the third quarter. Horry added a hoop and two free throws and O'Neal sank three free throws, widening the advantage to 85-79 entering the final period.

A 3-pointer by Kendall Gill pulled Minnesota within 89-88 with 8:24 remaining, but the Wolves went nearly five minutes without a basket. During that stretch, they missed seven shots and committed four turnovers, while the Lakers had four steals and three blocks.

"In the second half, we got some easy layups and did a better job protecting the basket," O'Neal said. "They got no easy buckets."

Bryant made two foul shots and a pair of jumpers for a 102-95 lead with 1:49 to go. Garnett sank two free throws and Joe Smith hit a short jumper, making it a three-point game.

With the shot clock running down and Minnesota's defense scrambling, Fisher drilled an 18-footer from the left wing with 26 seconds to play, sealing the win.

"Once I got it, I looked up and saw we still had four seconds left," Fisher said. "I took my time and got off a good shot. We still had four seconds. That's more time than I thought we would have."

Horry scored 11 points for the Lakers, who shot 46 percent (41-of-89) from the field and committed just five turnovers.

Troy Hudson scored 21 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 15 for the Wolves, who shot 45 percent (41-of-91) and held a 52-40 advantage on the glass. Nesterovic scored 12 points before his injury.

"I think I came down on Shaq's foot," Nesterovic said. "Injuries happen to everybody. Playing so many games, everybody gets injured in different ways. I just hope to get back healthy quickly."

The teams split the four-game season series as the Wolves failed in a bid to win it for the first time.