MINNEAPOLIS, May 21 (Ticker) -- Once again, Derek Fisher showed that the Los Angeles Lakers are more than the "Fantastic Four."

Fisher scored 14 points -- all on perimeter shots -- as the Lakers wasted no time taking home-court advantage away from the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 97-88 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

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Shaquille O'Neal dictated things in the paint Friday in Game 1.
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"You need players that are supporting players to step up and make plays," Fisher said. "Most nights in the playoffs, stars are going to be stars. That's what they get paid to do. But the guys like myself ... and everybody else on our team are going to continue to make contributions for us."

Playing for the first time in six days, the Lakers got their expected performances from superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant and another outstanding defensive effort from Karl Malone, this time on NBA MVP Kevin Garnett.

But during the pivotal stretches of the game, it was Fisher repeatedly knocking down outside shots. The hero of the conference semifinals made 4-of-5 3-pointers as he exploited Minnesota's double-teams on O'Neal and Bryant.

"It seems to be Derek Fisher's playoffs this year for us," reserve forward Rick Fox said. "They seemed to leave Derek open, and the ball found him and he made shots."

In an 11-0 burst that closed the third quarter and gave the Lakers the lead for good, Fisher drilled a pair of 3-pointers and a 15-footer off the dribble just before the horn.

"I definitely don't get as many looks at the basket consecutively as I used to in the past," said Fisher, who was bumped to the bench this season with the arrival of Gary Payton. "In the latter part of the regular season and into the playoffs, I'm feeling comfortable."

Coming off an exhausting seven-game series against Sacramento that ended two days ago, Minnesota rallied and closed to 92-88 with 2:38 remaining. But the Timberwolves committed a turnover and Garnett was stopped by Malone before Fisher delivered the dagger, a 3-pointer with 58 seconds to go.

"I think the momentum from (Fisher) has definitely spilled over from the past series, and he's riding the hot hand," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He took some big shots and helped us down the stretch."

"Derek Fisher has proven that he can hit those shots," Minnesota guard Trenton Hassell said. "We weren't quick enough in our rotation, and he got wide-open looks."

O'Neal had 27 points, 18 rebounds and five assists as he effectively dealt with a quartet of defenders. Bryant scored 10 of his 23 points in the third quarter, jump-starting the offense.

The 41-year-old Malone, who did a remarkable job on Tim Duncan in the conference semifinals, played Garnett to a virtual standstill. He scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and swept 11 boards while limiting a spent Garnett to 16 and 10.

"You just try to make him work hard every time he's out there," Malone said. "Even if he's not involved, you just try to be around him and try to keep him off the boards. He still got a double-double."

"This is not the time to be tired," Garnett said. "Fatigue is not a word I'm going to use, ever."

In the conference finals for the first time, the top-seeded Timberwolves played the last 16 minutes without All-Star guard Sam Cassell, who has been bothered by a lower back injury. He has 48 hours to recuperate before Game 2 here on Sunday.

"Sometimes (the injury) allows me to do things and sometimes it doesn't allow me to do things," said Cassell, who had 16 points and eight assists. "In the fourth quarter, it didn't allow me to get off the bench."

In the first round last year, the Lakers ambushed the host Wolves in Game 1 of a series Los Angeles eventually won 4-2.

A drive by Latrell Sprewell, who scored 23 points, cut the deficit to 88-86 with 4:03 to play. But Malone worked a give-and-go that led to Devean George's dunk, then sank a jumper to make it 92-86 with 2:58 left.

"We're starting to hit a little stride, like we did early on in the season," Malone said. "If that's the case, it couldn't have come at a better time."

Minnesota got an early lift from center Michael Olowokandi, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds. He did not play in the last four games against Sacramento but came on in the first quarter for Ervin Johnson and scored eight points.

"Michael played well, considering he hasn't played much in the last three weeks," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "He had energy."

Late in the second quarter, the Wolves went to 300-pounder Oliver Miller in an effort to slow O'Neal, who still had 15 points in the first half, helping the Lakers to a 46-44 lead. Forward Mark Madsen also took an unsuccessful turn on O'Neal, who made 9-of-16 shots and 9-of-11 free throws.

Sprewell scored 11 points in the third quarter, a burst that was offset by Bryant and Fisher.