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Minnesota 114, L.A. Lakers 110 (OT)
Wolves Win L.A. Late Show, Take 2-1 Lead

Troy Hudson scored 27 points for the Wolves in L.A.
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LOS ANGELES, April 24 (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves overcame the loss of Kevin Garnett and questionable officiating to post one of the biggest victories in team history.

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After Garnett collected 33 points and 14 rebounds in regulation, the Timberwolves made their free throws in overtime and escaped with a 114-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of their Western Conference first-round series.

Minnesota never has won a postseason series but has recorded two wins in a playoff series for just the second time and first since losing a five-game series to Seattle in 1998. The Timberwolves regained home-court advantage after squandering a five-point lead with 22 seconds left in regulation.

Garnett, who had just two fouls heading into the fourth quarter, picked up three in a three-minute span. He fouled out on the first play of the extra period, leaving Minnesota vulnerable in a game it had in its grasp.

"I felt miserable," Garnett said. "I didn't know if I was going to be a T-Wolve cheerleader with pom-poms."

Part of the reason the game went to overtime was questionable officiating. Kobe Bryant completed a controversial four-point play late in regulation after Wally Szczerbiak was whistled for a foul, although he did not appear to touch Bryant.

Szczerbiak also had his jersey grabbed by Lakers forward Rick Fox on the next play but was called for stepping out of bounds, setting the stage for Bryant to tie it with a foul shot with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

"There were some interesting plays, interesting calls, and you can't get frustrated," Szczerbiak said. "I didn't touch the guy, what are you going to do? Even though I fouled Kobe and he made the four-point play and it went into OT, we knew we were going to win."

With Garnett on the bench, Los Angeles had a golden opportunity and took its last lead on two free throws by rookie Jannero Pargo with 47 seconds to go. Pargo went to the line after Szczerbiak was called for another foul, although he again did not appear to make contact.

Gary Trent was fouled at the other end and made a pair from the line to give Minnesota a 109-108 advantage with 24 seconds left and Bryant missed a contested shot in the lane for Los Angeles.

Two foul shots by Marc Jackson made it 111-108 with 11 seconds left and the Timberwolves elected to foul Shaquille O'Neal. He split a pair, but Jackson did the same with seven seconds left for a 112-109 advantage.

That gave the Lakers a chance to tie, but Bryant's 3-pointer hit the back rim with 2.6 seconds to go. O'Neal was fouled and made the second free throw to cut the lead to two, although he was trying to miss to give Los Angeles a chance to get the rebound and tie it.

"The reason we're in this position is we're a team," Garnett said. "Everyone needed to believe in one another, and we've got a lot of confidence in ourselves." Two fouls shots by Troy Hudson with two seconds left finally sealed the win for Minnesota and snapped Los Angeles' 15-game home winning streak.

"We said going in that we're playing the defending champs. A lot of times you have to go through a situation and establish yourselves, whether you win a series or don't win a series," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "The big question for us was would we be able to come back and maintain that intensity on the road in a pivotal game that was extremely important for both teams. And we came out and we didn't back down."

Hudson scored 27 points, one game after his team playoff-record 37-point outburst. But the postgame talk centered around the officiating.

Garnett's sixth foul was questionable as he made minimal contact with Robert Horry 12 seconds into the extra session. Minnesota had a 10-2 edge in free-throw attempts in the first half before the Lakers - and the officials - turned that around.

"That's part of the game," Trent said. "They're going to call what they're going to call."

Los Angeles went to the line 15 times in the fourth quarter while Minnesota did not get to the stripe until Garnett was fouled intentionally with 33 seconds left. But the Lakers made just 10 free throws and shot just 61 percent (22-of-36) from the line.

"Some guys were disappointed, the guys that didn't make the free throws that could have helped us win the game didn't make plays the way they wanted to," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.

O'Neal was 8-of-16 from the line.

"We did not play our game tonight for some reason," he said. "We just have to get it back."

While Garnett and fellow starter Rasho Nesterovic fouled out, Lakers superstars O'Neal and Bryant each picked up just one foul. Los Angeles saw starters Fox and Derek Fisher foul out.

Bryant scored 30 points and O'Neal collected 28 and 17 rebounds, but the duo combined to make just 20-of-54 shots as Los Angeles shot just below 40 percent (39-of-98). Fisher was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc and scored 23 points.

"We did a decent job late in the fourth quarter to make a rally," Bryant said. "We were out of the ballgame, but we were fortunate to get back in it and put the game in overtime."

Hudson's jumper with 6:24 left in the third quarter gave Minnesota a 69-56 lead, an advantage that was down to 80-71 heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Lakers took control to start the period and seized their first lead since the first quarter on two free throws by Fox that made it 89-87 with 5:28 left in regulation.

After a reverse layup by Szczerbiak tied it, Garnett nailed a jumper for his first points in nearly 16 minutes. He added a lane jumper and Hudson's steal and layup provided a 95-89 lead with 2:31 to go.

Garnett and Hudson each made a pair at the line around a dunk by Bryant to leave Minnesota with a 101-96 advantage. Szczerbiak found himself at the center of two controversial plays - his foul on Bryant's 3-pointer and his turnover that gave Los Angeles a chance to win.

Anthony Peeler scored the first four points of the extra session. Peeler, Szczerbiak, Jackson, Hudson and Trent were the five players who finished the game.

"We're not out there thinking," Peeler said. "We're out there playing ball, and that's what got us here."

Los Angeles lost for just the sixth time in 32 playoff games at Staples Center, which hosts Game Two on Sunday afternoon.



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