2002-03 Recap: Playoffs

Kevin Garnett averaged 27.0 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the playoffs.
Photos: NBAE/Getty Images
Recaps: 2002-03 | October/November | December
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The Timberwolves entered the 2003 NBA Playoffs their seventh consecutive postseason appearance as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, earning homecourt advantage for the first time in franchise history. In the first round, the Wolves were paired against the fifth seed and three-time defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers.

In Minnesota's first-ever home appearance for Game 1, the Lakers came into Target Center and stole the show and homecourt advantage. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant combined for 71 points as Los Angeles routed the Wolves, 117, 98. The Lakers scored the first points of the game and never looked back. Derek Fischer hit a three-pointer just 23 seconds into the game, and although the Wolves responded on the next possession, the Lakers pulled away for a 39-23 lead after the first quarter. Minnesota outscored L.A. in the second and third quarters, but the lead was too large to overcome.

The Wolves turned the tables in Game 2. This time, the Wolves scored first taking an 8-0 lead before the Lakers hit their first shot. Troy Hudson and Kevin Garnett each broke the franchise playoff scoring record, as Hudson finished with 37 points and Garnett 35. Hudson hit a three at the end of the first half as the Wolves headed to the locker room with a 57-43 lead. There was no letdown in the second half, with Minnesota opening the third with a 13-4 run. The Wolves outscored the Lakers in every quarter.

Anthony Peeler hit two clutch shots in overtime of Game 3.
The two teams headed to the West Coast with the series tied, 1-1. Minnesota needed to win just one of the two next games in Los Angeles to reclaim homecourt advantage and the Wolves did just that in Game 3. The Timberwolves took a five-point lead after the first quarter, extending that to six at halftime and nine after three. But the Lakers responded and took the lead just past the halfway point of the fourth quarter. The Wolves recovered and had a six-point lead with 2:31 remaining. Then with a five-point advantage and only 22 seconds left, Kobe Bryant hit a three-pointer and was fouled by Wally Szczerbiak. Bryant hit the free throw to pull within one with 17 seconds to go. Szczerbiak was then whistled for a turnover on the inbounds play, and Rasho Nesterovic picked up a foul that sent Bryant to the free throw line with a chance to give the Lakers the lead. But he missed the first free throw, hitting the second to tie the game. Hudson's shot at the buzzer missed, sending the Wolves to their first overtime playoff game in franchise history.

The extra session started disastrously for the Wolves, as Garnett was hit with his sixth foul in the opening play. But the Timberwolves didn't back down. Anthony Peeler who had scored just two points in regulation opened the scoring with a tip-in off a miss by Marc Jackson. Then he hit another shot to increase the Wolves' advantage to four. O'Neal responded with four points of his own, and the score was again tied. The Lakers took the lead on a free throw after Szczerbiak picked up a technical foul. The Wolves regained the lead 30 seconds later with two free throws from Hudson. Los Angeles took its last lead with 47 seconds remaining off two more free throws. Minnesota's remaining points were all from free throws, as the team hit 9-of-10 in the overtime period. Gary Trent made a pair with 24 seconds left, giving the Wolves the lead for good. Jackson was 3-of-4, and Hudson rounded out the scoring with two seconds left as the Wolves escaped with a 114-110 win. Hudson followed his 37-point effort in Game 2 with a 27-point showing in Game 3, and Garnett had 33 points and 14 rebounds.

Troy Hudson had a big playoff series for the Wolves.
Game 4 started out well for the Wolves, who recovered from an eight-point deficit in the first quarter to take a one-point lead after the first quarter. Again in the second quarter, the Lakers took the lead, this time by five. But Hudson hit three three-pointers in a two-minute span and the Wolves led by two at halftime. Minnesota took its biggest lead at 74-63 with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter before the Lakers went on a run of their own, including an 8-0 stretch to end the period, and the teams were tied with 10:49 remaining in the game. The Wolves pushed to a six-point lead as late as 7:33 remaining, but the Lakers took the lead for good off a Devean George jump shot with 4:40 to go. Garnett and Hudson each scored 28 for the Timberwolves, with Garnett adding 18 rebounds. The series was tied again, 2-2, heading back to Target Center.

The fifth game of the series was much like the first: a Laker rout. Los Angeles led by only three after the first quarter, but pulled away after a 10-point halftime lead by scoring the first seven of the second half and won by 30. Fisher scored 24 points, including five of the team's 12 three-pointers, and Bryant and O'Neal combined for 57. Garnett had his fifth double-double of the series, with 25 points and 16 rebounds, but the Wolves shot 43 percent to the Lakers' 54 percent, and the Wolves had 17 rebounds compared to seven for the Lakers, who took homecourt advantage again and needed only one more win in the final two games.

Shaquille O'Neal scored the first nine points for the Lakers, who did not trail after the 1:43 point of the second quarter. All five starters were in double figures for the Lakers, eliminating the Wolves with a 101-85 win. Hudson scored 14 of his 18 points in the first quarter, and Garnett matched his total and added 12 rebounds to record six consecutive double-doubles in the playoffs.

Garnett averaged 27.0 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists during the six-game series. Hudson averaged 23.5, and Szczerbiak 14.5.

Expanded playoffs results

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