MINNEAPOLIS, May 29 (Ticker) -- Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves fought off elimination. The Los Angeles Lakers didn't seem to mind.

Garnett had 30 points and 19 rebounds as the Timberwolves extended their season with a 98-96 victory over the Lakers, who lost a close-out game for the first time in four years.

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Wally Szczerbiak and the Wolves had reason for excitement.
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Top-seeded Minnesota still trails the Western Conference Finals, 3-2, and the series returns to Los Angeles for Game Six on Monday. But the Timberwolves are alive, thanks to the NBA MVP.

Playing virtually the entire game, Garnett made 10-of-23 shots and 10-of-11 free throws. On defense, he took a turn on several players, including Shaquille O'Neal.

"What we ask KG to do is remarkable," said Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who used a small lineup. "The only thing that I can think of that is similar is what Magic (Johnson) did against Philadelphia (in the 1980 Finals). ... He told me at half that he could go the whole way."

"I am not tired at all," Garnett said. "Fatigue is not a word I am going to use ever."

With All-Star guard Sam Cassell sidelined by a back injury, Latrell Sprewell gave the offense a boost with 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

"No one wants the season to be over," Sprewell said. "We didn't want to go home and I think we played that way."

The Timberwolves contained O'Neal and Kobe Bryant for long stretches and opened an 86-70 lead midway through the fourth quarter before withstanding a pair of surges by the Lakers.

"Down the stretch and in the second half I never had the sense that we were going to lose," Saunders said.

Bryant scored 23 points for Los Angeles, which gave away a pair of sizable leads in the first half and did not show their normal intensity in the second half until it was too late.

"I thought we didn't play very smart basketball," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We ask them to move the ball and they were trying to take them off the dribble."

"We wanted to finish the series," said Bryant, who made 8-of-19 shots. "It wasn't for a lack of effort. That would be an injustice to Minnesota. They played extremely hard."

O'Neal had 17 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out for the Lakers, who had won 12 straight close-out games since losing Game 5 of the 2000 NBA Finals at Indiana.

The Lakers looked like they were going for the kill when they jumped to a 20-10 lead late in the first quarter. After Minnesota fought back for a 23-23 tie early in the second period, L.A. rebuilt a 40-33 lead with 3:33 left on a layup by Derek Fisher, who scored 17 points off the bench.

But the Wolves closed the quarter with a 13-0 burst. Baskets by Trenton Hassell and Garnett opened the second half and gave Minnesota a 50-40 lead. Meanwhile, O'Neal was mired in a stretch where he went 24 minutes without a basket.

Sprewell scored 11 straight points for Minnesota in the fourth quarter before L.A. cut it to 86-80 with 3:21 to go on a layup by Malone, who had 17 points.

But Fred Hoiberg, who scored 14 points off the bench, sank a jumper and drew a foul from Bryant. His free throw, plus four from Garnett, made it 93-80 with 1:31 left.

"Freddy's shot got us back in it and our crowd going," Garnett said.