L.A. Lakers 93, Minnesota 90
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19 (Ticker) -- Chucky Atkins
, Caron Butler
Los Angeles Lakers continue to show that they can win without
Atkins had 25 points and a season-high 11 assists and Butler hit
the go-ahead basket with 35 seconds left as the Lakers posted a
93-90 victory over the reeling Minnesota Timberwolves.
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"Coach (Rudy Tomjanovich
) was using me to generate offense off
the pick-and-roll," Atkins said. "And that is how I make my
living in this league. I was able to get to the middle, drop a
few passes off and make a few baskets myself."
Los Angeles has won three of four games since Bryant, the NBA's
second-leading scorer, went down with a sprained right ankle
against Cleveland on Thursday.
"Right now, with Kobe out there is an opportunity for me to
(produce) and tonight I was able to make things happen for my
teammates," Atkins said.
In a game in which neither team led by more than 10 points,
Atkins drew the Lakers even, 86-86, on a 3-pointer with 2:40
left. Kevin Garnett
and Lamar Odom
traded buckets before Wally Szczerbiak
gave the Timberwolves a 90-88 edge with 1:29
made 1-of-2 free throws on the other end and,
after a missed 3-pointer by Latrell Sprewell
, Butler drove the
baseline and made a tough layup over Szczerbiak to give Los
Angeles the lead for good.
"The difference in the game was that down the stretch they
basically put their head down and to the hole and we basically
took jumpers," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders
Butler, normally a small forward, scored 16 points starting in
Bryant's shooting guard spot.
"As long as we come away with the win it sure feels good,"
Butler said. "Tonight was my first time playing the two
position, so a lot of plays I did not know. I was kind of in
some crazy situations and at times I was lost, but I fought my
way through and my teammates helped me."
Garnett scored eight of his 27 points in the fourth quarter but
missed a turnaround jumper with 12 seconds left. Jones added
two more free throws to push the lead to three.
Minnesota's final push came up short when Sprewell missed a long
3-pointer with two seconds left.
"I had a good look at it," Sprewell said. "It had a chance. It
just didn't go."
The rebound was tipped out to Troy Hudson
, whose desperation
3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim.
"I didn't get a good chance to take that last shot," Hudson
said. "It came to me and I just had to shoot it quickly. It was
close but not good enough."
Sprewell scored 23 points on 9-of-28 shooting for the Wolves,
who have lost nine of their last 12 games.
"We are trying to play through a bad stretch," Sprewell said.
"We are being more competitive. This is another game that we
felt like we had. There is no quit in us. Guys have to keep
fighting and being positive and keep trying to pick one another
Jones scored 12 and Odom -- who struggled with foul trouble --
added 11 for the Lakers.
Odom played just 17 minutes through three quarters and picked up
most of his fouls guarding Garnett.
"Playing against a guy like Kevin Garnett for Minnesota leaves
just so many things you can do to make him take tougher shots,"
Odom said. "We did a good job as a team tonight defending him."