L.A. Lakers 120, Minnesota 09
MINNEAPOLIS, April 29 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
, Shaquille O'Neal
rest of the Los Angeles Lakers showed the Minnesota Timberwolves
what it takes to win a big playoff game.
Bryant scored 32 points, O'Neal added 27 and the Lakers got
great support in a 120-90 destruction of the Timberwolves that
gave them a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference first-round
The fifth-seeded Lakers appeared to be in trouble after losing
Game Three at home in overtime to fall behind in the series. But
they evened things with a win in Game Four on Sunday and showed
their huge advantage in experience Tuesday.
"Experience pays off when you get in games like this," Bryant
said. "We know how to handle it and know how to apply pressure
to the other team. ... We don't need to get too excited about
this win. We did what champions are supposed to do."
"We just had a little bit more intensity than they did," O'Neal
said. "This is the first game in a long time we've had a good
As usual, the three-time defending champions relied heavily on
Bryant, who scored 16 points in the third quarter, and O'Neal,
who made 10-of-18 shots and pulled down 11 rebounds.
But they also received big performances from Derek Fisher
, who have been part of all three title teams but
had struggled in this series.
Fisher, who had been outplayed by Minnesota guard Troy Hudson
scored 24 points. Horry, who had not made a 3-pointer in the
first four games, made two in a second-quarter surge that gave
the Lakers the lead for good.
"Fisher was instrumental and inspirational," Lakers coach Phil
Jackson said. "Shaq dominated down low. Kobe had a great second
half. Horry made some big shots and contributed nicely."
"Tonight we set the tone early, and those first few minutes in
the third period were extremely important," Fisher said.
Playing their 600th playoff game in search of their 15th
championship, the Lakers thoroughly outclassed the Timberwolves,
who were playing their 28th playoff game in search of their
first series win.
"Well, it was Groundhog Day, very similar to Game One, with
Fisher hitting threes and them establishing their role players,"
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We played out of
In what may have been the biggest game in the history of the
franchise, Minnesota came up very small. Superstar Kevin
had 25 points and 16 rebounds but got very little help.
The Lakers shot 54 percent (45-of-83), including 12-of-23 from
3-point range. They held a 44-36 edge on the glass and
committed just seven turnovers.
"This is a team that I recognize," Jackson said. "We got into
our defensive core, limited turnovers and found open men - and
our 3-point shooters made shots."
Los Angeles can advance to the conference semifinals for the
seventh straight year with a win at home Thursday.
"It's win or die," Garnett said. "We've got all the confidence
in the world and we've won at Staples before. I hope they don't
think it's over, because we're coming."
A clutch playoff performer, Horry missed his first 11 3-pointers
of the series before making one to give the Lakers the lead for
good at 43-40 with 4:07 left in the second quarter. He added
another between jumpers by Fisher to extend the lead to 52-44
with 1:54 remaining.
O'Neal had a basket, two free throws and another hoop to make it
58-46 just before halftime.
After a quiet first half, Bryant exploded in the third quarter.
With 7:23 left, he got going with a spectacular play, driving
past Garnett along the right baseline and coming up on the other
side of the rim for a reverse dunk that made it 73-55.
"My teammates were really excited about my dunk," Bryant said.
"A slam like that can demoralize a team and silence the crowd.
I'm interested to see it on tape."
Bryant had 14 more points in the rest of the quarter as the
Lakers extended to a 94-73 bulge entering the final period. The
Wolves got no closer than 18 points thereafter. Devean George
started for the injured Rick Fox
and had 12 points, eight
rebounds and six assists. Fox tore a leg tendon in Game Four
and is out for the playoffs.
"George did a great job replacing Rick Fox," Jackson said.
Hudson had 14 points and seven assists for Minnesota, which shot
43 percent (36-of-84) and committed 17 turnovers. Wally
continued to struggle, managing just nine points on
"I think Wally has a lot of pressure on him to score in this
town," Bryant said. "The crowd is really on him whenever he
misses a shot."
Fisher was 8-of-10 overall and 5-of-7 from the arc. He scored
nine points in the first quarter as the Lakers grabbed a 28-25