Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/1

Game 1: Saturday, December 1st
Game 2: Friday, January 11th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 27th
Game 4: Thursday, April 11th

Lakers 102

(15-1, 10-0 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, December 1, 2001

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIN 21 25 16 1476
    LAL 24 22 31 25102

    Top Performers

    Minnesota: W. Szczerbiak 19 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast

    Los Angeles: S. O'Neal 23 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Lakers rest starters in cruising to 15-1

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal has learned that he doesn't have to score a bunch of points every game for the Los Angeles Lakers to win.

    Kobe Bryant played sparingly and had 18 points in the rout.

    "They choose to double- and triple-team me, and I'm just looking for my guys," O'Neal said.

    On Saturday night, O'Neal had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists as the Lakers ran their record to 15-1 with a 102-76 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    "Sitting there in the locker room last night (in Seattle), I kind of realized this is a good team without me."

    O'Neal, who was ejected in the first quarter of Los Angeles' 107-92 victory over the SuperSonics a night earlier, played 32 minutes against Minnesota as the steamrolling Lakers posted their best mark through 16 games in franchise history.

    The two-time defending NBA champions also have won 38 of their last 40 games going back to last season, when they finished the regular season with an eight-game win streak, then lost just once on the way to the league crown.

    Kobe Bryant added 18 points and had five assists 27 minutes for the Lakers against Minnesota, with Los Angeles taking control with a 21-6 burst in the third quarter.

    "We just came out in the third quarter and made a big push," said Lindsey Hunter, who made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the period to lead the Lakers' surge. "Anytime you got the big fellow down low, we want him to draw as much attention as possible so we can knock shots down."

    Los Angeles broke away from a 53-all tie to open a 74-59 lead with 1:34 left in the third.

    The Lakers outscored Minnesota 31-16 in the quarter and led 77-62 beginning the fourth. The Timberwolves were through.

    The Timberwolves (10-5), who started the season 9-1, lost their third straight and fourth in their last five.

    Kevin Garnett went 5-of-18 from the field and scored 11 points, about half his average 0 -- although he did have 14 rebounds. He did not go to the free throw line for the second consecutive game.

    "It's early in the season and we came out of the box pretty fast," Garnett said. "We're a really good team, and we believe that. We'll have stretches like this; it's part of an 82-game season.

    "We're just struggling right now and have to keep our heads up."

    Wally Szczerbiak led the Timberwolves with 19 points.

    Los Angeles reserve Devean George had 12 points, and Fisher, also coming off the bench, added nine. Hunter finished with 13 points.

    The Timberwolves shot just 37 percent from the floor, while the Lakers weren't much better, shooting 42 percent.

    Fisher's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in the first half pulled Los Angeles into a 46-all tie. The teams were neck-and-neck through the first two quarters, with no more than four points separating them.

    Game notes
    The 1969-70 New York Knicks went 23-1, the best start for a team with one loss. They finished that season by beating the Lakers in the Finals. ... The Lakers will make a belated trip to the White House, on Jan. 7, to be honored for the first time for their two NBA titles. The ceremonies were postponed earlier because of scheduling difficulties. "I'm looking forward to it and I'm sure everybody else is," Bryant said. "Everything's in a highly emotional state in the country, so it's going to be exciting to go there." ... O'Neal on his anticipated NBA fine for yelling at referee Bob Delaney and drawing two technicals and the ejection in Seattle: "Hopefully it will go to the police and firemen relief fund." ... The Timberwolves, 4-4 on the road, were tied with the Lakers for the NBA's best record after 10 games, when each had one loss.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 76 102
    FGM-FGA 33-90 (.367) 38-90 (.422)
    3PM-3PA 3-9 (.333) 8-23 (.348)
    FTM-FTA 7-8 (.875) 18-21 (.857)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-50 8-44
    Assists 22 25
    Turnovers 21 10
    Steals 6 12
    Blocks 8 10
    Fast Break Points 20 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 14 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Wally Szczerbiak Szczerbiak
    Points: 19
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 23
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2