Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/1

Game 1: Sunday, December 1st
Game 2: Tuesday, December 17th
Game 3: Friday, March 7th
Game 4: Friday, March 14th

Lakers 106

(36-28, 12-18 away)

    7:00 PM ET, March 14, 2003

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 30 26 29 21106
    MIN 30 27 22 2099

    Top Performers

    LAL: S. O'Neal 26 Pts, 15 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

    Min: K. Garnett 23 Pts, 17 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Lakers turn road fortunes around, gain on Jazz

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers badly needed a victory to stop their longest road trip of the season from spinning out of control.


    Derek Fisher scored 21 points, including a clutch jump shot with 26.6 seconds left, to help the Lakers to a 106-99 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

    "We were concerned about rebuilding the energy we had,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "If we're going to do anything in these playoffs, we've got to start doing something on the road.''

    Kobe Bryant (30 points, playing with flu-like symptoms) and Shaquille O'Neal (26 points, 15 rebounds) did their usual thing. But Fisher helped extend the Timberwolves' defense, contained Minnesota's Troy Hudson and give the Lakers hope of salvaging a six-game road trip that started with lopsided losses at Chicago and Detroit.

    "We didn't want to go 0-3 on this trip,'' Bryant said. "That's nasty.''

    O'Neal thought his team underestimated the Bulls and the Pistons.

    "It was good to get back on track,'' he said. "We knew we needed this one.''

    Kevin Garnett had 23 points and 17 rebounds and Hudson scored 21 points -- only two in the second half -- for the Timberwolves, who lost their second straight at home after a 17-game winning streak at Target Center.

    The Wolves also missed a chance to take the season series from the Lakers for the first time in front of their first sellout crowd of the season.

    "We tried to do too much,'' Hudson said. "We were just trying to be aggressive, but at times we were too aggressive.''

    After a 30-point game and a 20-point third quarter in a loss on Wednesday to San Antonio, Hudson was 8-for-12 with three 3-pointers in the first half. But the Lakers -- 20-for-28 at the foul line compared to Minnesota's 10-for-13 -- shut Hudson down in the second half and kept Garnett (8-for-21 from the field) from getting any great looks.

    "We made too many careless turnovers,'' Garnett said. "They're just too good for us to give them 15 turnovers and 12 steals.''

    Minnesota went more than 4 minutes without a field goal, yet -- thanks to five straight missed free throws by O'Neal -- still trailed only 96-91 on a jumper by Garnett with 3:45 left.

    Fisher's shot accounted for the only Lakers points in the final eight minutes not scored by Bryant or O'Neal, but it came after Joe Smith's turnaround in the lane over O'Neal cut the Los Angeles lead to 102-99 with 49.9 seconds remaining.

    The Lakers, in the unfamiliar position of looking up in the Western Conference standings, moved a half-game behind Utah for sixth place. The Wolves are fifth.

    After an even first half (Minnesota led 57-56 after Hudson beat the second-period buzzer with a 3-pointer), Wally Szczerbiak sparked the Wolves with seven points during an 11-0 third-quarter run.

    A few minutes later, though, center Rasho Nesterovic landed awkwardly after trying to grab the rebound of a missed shot by the Lakers and rolled around on the floor in pain, cradling his right ankle. He finished with 12 points and five rebounds after playing decent defense against O'Neal.

    Los Angeles then closed the quarter with a 15-4 run and led 85-79 headed into the final period.

    "It's going to be a distraction if he doesn't come back for a couple of games,'' Szczerbiak said. "We need him.''

    Game notes

    The Timberwolves are launching a Heisman Trophy-like campaign stumping for an MVP award for Garnett. The team put placards that look like Minnesota license plates and read "KG 4 MVP'' on selected seats. ... The Lakers are 8-1 with Mark Madsen starting. ... Minnesota G Rod Strickland (strained groin) missed his 23rd straight game but could return this homestand, Sunday against Portland or Tuesday against Memphis. ... The last time the Timberwolves played for a sold-out crowd was last March 28 against Dallas. When the two teams met again at Target Center a month later in the playoffs, the game drew 18,795 fans -- 211 short of capacity. ... Former Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, sitting at one end of the court, walked to the other end at halftime and chatted amiably with ex-teammate Randy Moss.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 106 99
    FGM-FGA 41-89 (.461) 41-91 (.451)
    3PM-3PA 4-11 (.364) 7-13 (.538)
    FTM-FTA 20-28 (.714) 10-13 (.769)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-40 17-52
    Assists 24 25
    Turnovers 5 15
    Steals 12 2
    Blocks 11 4
    Fast Break Points 5 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 19 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 26
    Reb: 15
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 5
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 23
    Reb: 17
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1