MINNEAPOLIS, May 23 (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves knew they could count on Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell with Sam Cassell injured. Now, they know they can depend upon Wally Szczerbiak and Darrick Martin in crucial situations, too.

With Cassell limited to just 43 seconds of action due to a bad back, Szczerbiak scored 16 points and Martin 15 off the bench to help the Timberwolves rout the Los Angeles Lakers, 89-71, and even the Western Conference Finals at one game apiece.

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Wally Szczerbiak came off the bench to score 16 in Game 2.
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The Lakers shot just 37 percent (25-of-68) as they matched their franchise playoff-low point total.

"We weren't desperate," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "They were and played with intensity. We will have to live with a split."

Garnett collected 24 points and 11 rebounds and Sprewell added 17 and eight assists for the Timberwolves, who visit the Staples Center for Game 3 on Tuesday.

The game got testy in the fourth quarter, when seven technical fouls were called. Lakers forward Karl Malone, who managed just five points matched up against Garnett, was ejected with 2:31 remaining for knocking Martin to the floor with a hard shoulder while setting a pick.

"It's only the beginning," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "When you start playing a team two times in three days you start not liking each other."

Martin played 36 minutes and had six assists without committing a turnover.

"We have seen it before where someone steps into the vacuum (created by the player injury) and has a great game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Martin did that for them tonight."

"He didn't have any turnovers," Sprewell said of Martin. "He moved the ball ahead. He got the ball to myself and Wally in good positions."

Szczerbiak played 39 minutes and had seven assists and five rebounds.

"He was in a nice flow," Garnett said. "I think you are gonna see him get into a nice rhythm."

Minnesota took the lead for good during a 9-0 run that opened an 18-11 advantage, held a 32-24 edge after one quarter and a 51-37 cushion at the break.

The Timberwolves neutralized Shaquille O'Neal in the first half, holding him to just four points. Minnesota center Ervin Johnson, a non-factor in Game 1, had five points before the break and seven overall.

"I told Erv to frame the first-half stat sheet," Saunders said. "He outscored Shaq."

"It was one of those days where I was missing chippies," said O'Neal, who made only 4-of-10 shots. "I don't usually go 4-for-10. I won't go 4-for-10 when I get home."

Los Angeles climbed within 63-56 on a 3-pointer by Kareem Rush with 1:04 left in the third quarter, but Minnesota scored the final five points of the period and led by at least 11 points in the final 12 minutes.

Bryant had 27 points - 14 in the first quarter - and O'Neal added 14 and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, but no other player reached double figures.

O'Neal had 27 points and 18 rebounds and made 9-of-11 free throws in Game 1, but he misfired on eight of his 14 shots from the line in this one. The Lakers made only 15-of-29 free throws while the Timberwolves sank 16-of-19.