2002-03 Recap: Playoffs
Kevin Garnett averaged 27.0 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the playoffs.
Photos: NBAE/Getty Images
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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 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.
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