L.A. Lakers 92, Minnesota 85
LOS ANGELES, May 27 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
again came alive in the
third quarter, all but leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves for
Bryant scored 18 of his 31 points in the third and Shaquille O'Neal
and Karl Malone
dominated inside as the Los Angeles
Lakers pushed the Timberwolves to the brink of elimination with
a 92-85 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
NBA TV highlights from|
Shaquille O'Neal's 19 points and 19 boards led L.A. to a 3-1 series lead.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images/NBAE
After going scoreless in the first half of Game 3, Bryant
scored 22 points in the second half. He had another subpar
first half in this one, managing just nine points before posting
his best quarter of the playoffs.
"I just read it and pace it out," Bryant said. "Collapse the
defense in the first half by swinging it around and moving the
ball. In the second half, when I sense some momentum and I feel
like it's time to go in for the kill, that's when I do it."
Bryant made 6-of-10 shots in the third, including a spectacular
reverse layup as he was fouled by Minnesota's Michael Olowokandi
with 5:19 remaining.
Bryant scored seven straight points to spark a 19-6 run the
Lakers used to end the third quarter. He dominated the final
stages of the quarter with a jumper, two free throws and
three-point play in a span of two minutes.
"He's one of those guys that when he gets one or two shots, he
gets things going," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders
said. "He has
an uncanny ability to take over games at different periods of
Bryant made the final basket of the period, a jumper with two
seconds left to give the Lakers a 75-60 cushion.
Bryant's heroics overshadowed a mammoth effort by O'Neal, who
had 19 points and 19 rebounds.
"I'm just trying to help my team win," said O'Neal, who made
6-of-10 shots from the floor and 7-of-15 free throws. "I'm just
trying to do the little things at times. I don't really get
the 20 to 25 shots I used to get. I block shots, get some
"(O'Neal) just stepped it up," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
"Some time during the first half he just said, 'You guys find
your man and I'll find the rebounds out there.'"
Malone added 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as Los
Angeles held a commanding 52-42 edge on the glass.
The Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and can
advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth time in five seasons
with a win at the Target Center on Saturday.
"We can see the light to the Finals, which is one more game,"
Lakers forward Rick Fox
said. "It is going to have great
significance for all of us in here and we are just one game
"Right now we're down to playing a one-game series," Saunders
said. "Our main focus is to go home and find a way to keep
barely missed a triple-double with 28 points, 13
rebounds and nine assists for the Timberwolves, who were held to
just 38 percent (32-of-84) shooting, including 5-of-17 from
Minnesota had little flow offensively without All-Star point
guard Sam Cassell
, who played only five minutes off the bench
due to back spasms.
"It's tough right now, not having the ability to physically do
it," Cassell said. "I understand injuries are a part of
professional basketball, but it's just tough right now for me."
scored 19 points off the bench and Latrell Sprewell
had 12 but made only 4-of-18 shots from the floor.
Minnesota led most of the first half, but Los Angeles closed the
second quarter with a 15-5 run to take the lead for good.
scored six of his 15 points during the spurt, which
gave the Lakers a 45-40 halftime cushion.