TDIKH: March 26

March 26, 2004

25 years, 216 days

The Lakers were on the verge of being swept by Minnesota, but Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had a message to send.

Bryant poured in 35 points, while O’Neal collected 22 points and 18 rebounds to push the Lakers past the Timberwolves, 90-73.

“That’ s a real important win,” head coach Phil Jackson told reporters. “Odds are that we’ll meet them in the playoffs, and we wanted to send the message that we’re not going to be say to beat.”

Indeed, the Lakers went on to face Minnesota in the Western Conference Finals, winning in six games.

But first they had to take the last regular season meeting, despite shooting just 39.3 percent from the field. While Kevin Garnett finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, the purple and gold shut down everyone else by holding the Wolves to a 31.4 percent clip.

The Lakers sped out to an eight-point halftime lead before breaking the game open with a 28-12 third quarter. Bryant outscored the Timberwolves by himself in this frame with 13 points.

He also grabbed nine rebounds on the night while shooting 13-of-21 to lead the Lakers to their seventh consecutive win.