Szczerbiak, Garnett Fuel Wolves’ Comeback
Minnesota 113, L.A. Lakers 108
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 2 (Ticker) -- Wally Szczerbiak and Kevin Garnett sensed the Los Angeles Lakers were tiring and pounced.
Szczerbiak scored 28 of of his season-high 34 points in the second half and Garnett added 29 to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 113-108 triumph over the Lakers.
Minnesota trailed, 92-85, with 7:37 to go before scoring nine straight points. Szczerbiak started the surge with two free throws and ended it with a jumper to put the Timberwolves in front with 5:13 to play.
"We got them back on their heels in the second half," Szczerbiak said. "Part of the reason for that is we mixed and matched our lineups. I got involved in some pick-and-rolls. Then (Minnesota guard Troy Hudson) and I got hot and KG carried us to victory."
After a layup by Smush Parker pulled Los Angeles into a 96-96 tie with 4:20 left, Minnesota broke open the contest with a 15-5 burst in the next 3 1/2 minutes to clinch its fifth win in seven outings.
"When you hit 10 shots in a row down the stretch, you are going to be hard to beat," Parker said of the Timberwolves' second-half onslaught. "There is a reason they are first place in their division. They step up with big plays when they need to."
Trenton Hassell sank a shot from the arc, Garnett hit consecutive jumpers, Marko Jaric nailed a 3-pointer and Szczerbiak scored five straight points as the Timberwolves built a 111-101 lead with 55 seconds remaining.
"When you have a couple of guys get hot like that, you pretty much force the defense to pick their poison," Garnett said. "The Lakers pretty much had addressed the problem they had with double-teaming me. I dream for single coverage and I was just patient and let the double-team come."
Minnesota trailed by 18 points late in the first half but got back in it with a 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters. Szczerbiak scored eight points and Hudson added seven to cut the deficit to 86-82 with 9:12 remaining.
"It was just being aggressive tonight," Hudson said. "I got all good shots and all of them felt real good. Once I feel good, I'm going to keep shooting. My teammates and the coaches encourage me to be aggressive."
Hudson came off the bench to score 18 points and Jaric added 12 for the Timberwolves, who shot 55 percent (42-of-76) from the field and committed just nine turnovers.
"Every time he plays against us, Hudson does that," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "He creates screen-and-rolls, then hits those big shots we were prepared to stop. We just didn't do a good job of covering him."
"We just executed," Hudson said. "Everyone was making hard cuts and making shots. When everybody is knocking down shots, you can't do much better than that."
Odom scored 24 points, Parker had a season-high 22 and Bryant 20 on 9-of-16 shooting for the Lakers. Second in the NBA in scoring, Bryant had averaged 33 shots in his last seven games.
"I don't think anybody was particularly tired, not enough to blow an 18-point lead." Bryant said. "They just kicked our butts on the screen-and-roll. Our rotations just weren't up to par. They moved the ball very well and got easy opportunities. Defense is what lost the game for us in the first place."