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NBA Playoffs 2003 - First round - Lakers vs. Wolves

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NBA Playoffs 2003 First Round
Los Angeles Lakers 4 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 2

Game 1: Lakers 117 - Timberwolves 98 at Min. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: Timberwolves 119
- Lakers 91 at Min. Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Timberwolves 114
- Lakers 110 at LA. Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Lakers 102 - Timberwolves 97 at LA. Game recap & pictures
Game 5: Lakers 120
- Timberwolves 90 at Min. Game recap & pictures
Game 6: Lakers 101
- Timberwolves 85 at LA. Game recap & pictures

GAME 1:  Lakers 117 - Timberwolves 98

Sweet home Minneapolis.

click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Times), (Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant) TARGET CENTER - MINNEAPOLIS. This city owns five NBA championships. Of course it´s been a long time since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles and the Wolves does not seem capable of getting another title.
The Lakers began pursuit of their fourth straight NBA title retaking home-court advantage Sunday afternoon, with hardly an effort at all.
Bryant scored 39 points and Shaquille O'Neal had 32 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers defeated Minnesota 117-98 to open their first-round series.
The Lakers shot for 61.4 percent from the floor in the first 24 minutes, committing just two turnovers and hitting 7-of-11 from 3-point range to take a 66-52 halftime lead.
In 22 minutes, Bryant had 28 points, on 12-for-16 shooting, seven assists, three rebounds, one steal and no turnovers. He finished with eight assists, five rebounds, one steal and one turnover.
Kevin Garnett had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, but that was not enough to help the Timberwolves win. Minnesota has home-court advantage for the first time in their history, but they have been eliminated in the opening round the past six years.
The Timberwolves briefly made it close, climbing within 80-76 with 2:49 left in the third quarter but the Lakers reacted as O'Neal had eight points during a 12-0 run over the next four minutes.
Los Angeles made 10-of-19 3-pointers while Minnesota went just 1-of-5 from the arc. Fisher, who finished with 17 points, was 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
The Lakers are trying to become the second team to win at least four straight titles. Boston won eight in a row from 1959-66

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant (LA): "I don't know what the big deal is about playing on the road. I've never seen fans scream loud enough to block my jump shot"
Wally Szczerbiak (Min): "He was, you know, pretty hot, I was trying to deny, anything, and he got it and hit shots with guys draped all over him.'' (about Kobe)

Highlights

Kobe Bryant (LAL) 39 pts 8assist 5 reb
Shaquille O'Neal (LAL) 32 pts 10 reb
Fisher (LAL) 17 pts 5-6 3pts
George (LAL) 11 pts / Fox (LAL) 10 pts
Garnett
(Min): 23 pts 14 reb 7 assist
Hudson (Min) 17pts / Szczerbiak (Min) 15 pts
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GAME 2:  Timberwolves 119 - Lakers 91

The Wolves will give battle.

click for Lakers Playoffs pictures (LA Times) (Derek Fisher, Shaquille O'Neal) TARGET CENTER - MINNESOTA. In Game 2 of their first-round series Kevin Garnett, Troy Hudson and the Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Lakers their biggest playoff loss in three years 119-91. To find something similar you have to travel to the 120-87 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the 2000 Finals.
In 48 hard minutes, the Lakers did not rebound (35 rebounds to the Minnesota's 52), did not handle the Timberwolves' press, did not defend (the Timberwolves made 55.6% of their field-goal attempts) and did not shoot well themselves (36.3%).
Troy Hudson scored a playoff franchise-record 37 points and handed out 10 assists for the Timberwolves. He averaged only 14.2 points during the regular season, and his best effort was 31.
Minnesota also got a great game from Kevin Garnett, who collected a playoff career-high 35 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists.
Bryant and O'Neal each scored 27 points for the Lakers but they didn't get much help from their teammates. Nobody else scored more than eight points.
A somber Shaquille O'Neal, who spent a day and a half in South Carolina for his grandfather's funeral, showed up about 90 minutes before tipoff and wasn't much of a factor, despite his points and rebounds.
Kobe Bryant, the other Laker star, had his 27 points on 9-of-28 shooting -- far below his spectacular 39-point performance in Sunday's opener.
Hudson scored six points in a 10-2 spurt to open the game and Minnesota never trailed. He nailed a 3-pointer over Shaquille O'Neal just before the halftime buzzer to make it 57-43.
The Timberwolves began the second half with a 13-4 run that ended with Hudson's 3-pointer for a 70-47 cushion with 8:55 left in the quarter.
Minnesota, which had never won a postseason game by more than nine points, led by as many as 24 in the third quarter but let the Lakers creep back into it in the fourth. Then Garnett made four of his five field-goal attempts in that final period.
Garnett's last basket -- a jumper from 12 feet -- elicited a thunderous chant of "MVP'' from the crowd.
Szczerbiak had 21 points, and Marc Jackson had 12 off the bench for the Timberwolves.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Los Angeles, where the Wolves are 3-24 all-time against the Lakers.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LAL): "I don't think they can play any better than that, they played a desperate game.'' ... "I don't think we're supposed to sweep every series," Jackson said.
Kevin Garnett (Min):
"They're going to have to really stab us, cut our hearts out and just put us in the morgue. This is a team full of pride and we have a lot of character."

Highlights

Bryant (LAL) 27 pts 8assist
O'Neal (LAL) 27 pts 14 reb
Garnett (Min): 35 pts 20 reb 7 assist
Hudson (Min): 37 pts 10 assist
Szczerbiak (Min): 21 pts
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GAME 3:  Timberwolves 114 - Lakers 110

Lakers aren't feeling at home.

click for Lakers Playoffs pictures (LA Times) (Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant) STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. The Staples Center made its first appearance of the postseason, bringing with it a 16-game win streak this season and a 26-5 playoff record in the Phil Jackson era, but the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame the loss of Kevin Garnett to post the biggest win in franchise history.
With Garnett on the sideline after fouling out early in overtime, the Timberwolves made seven free throws in the final 24.3 seconds to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-110 in game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Lakers trail in a first-round series for the first time since 1996, when they lost to the Houston Rockets in 4 games.
After stealing homecourt advantage in the series opener, the Lakers gave it back at home.
Through three quarters, O'Neal and Bryant made only a third of their shots, while the Lakers' leading scorer was Fisher, whose 23 points kept the Lakers close. Once again the Lakers couldn't handle the Minnesota's full-court pressure.
Everybody thought the miracle was about to happened when Kobe Bryant scored 5 points in the final 17 seconds, but he missed a free throw that could have won the game.
Bryant, with a sore shoulder, finished with a team-high 30 points, but missed 18 of his 28 shots, while Shaquille O'Neal had 28 points, missing 16 of his 26 shots and 8 of his 16 free throws. Shaq also added 17 rebounds and 5 blocks for L.A., which hosts Game 4 on Sunday.
The Lakers could not stop Garnett, who collected 33 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in the first 12 seconds of overtime.
Rookie Jannero Pargo hit a pair of free throws in overtime that gave the Lakers their final lead, 108-107, with 47.7 seconds left but O'Neal missed 2 of 4 free throws in the final 10.4 seconds. Drained by his grandfather's death last week, a cross- country trip to attend his wake and the arrival of a baby boy, O'Neal has yet to regain the dominant form that made him unstoppable the past 3 playoff runs.

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant (LAL): "We have been in similar situations,'' Bryant said. "We know how to deal with this.''
Kevin Garnett (Min): "It was miserable, knowing I couldn't come out there and help my team, I was going to be a T-Wolves cheerleader without the skirt and pom-poms.''

Highlights

Bryant (LAL) 30 pts 7 reb 6 assist
O'Neal (LAL) 28 pts 17 reb 5 block
Fisher (LAL): 23 pts
Garnett (Min): 33 pts 14 reb 4 block
Hudson (Min): 27 pts / Szczerbiak: 13 pts 6 reb
M. Jackson (Min): 12 pts 8 reb
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GAME 4:  Lakers 102 - Timberwolves 97

Shaq is back.

click for Lakers Playoffs pictures (LA Times) (Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant) STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. O'Neal had his best game of the series with 34 points and 23 rebounds as the Lakers rallied to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 102-97, and even their series at two games apiece.
Kobe Bryant added 32 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, despite shooting 7-of-25 with persistent pain in his right shoulder. He was 16-of-17 from the foul line, making four free throws without a miss in the last 12.8 seconds to clinch the victory.
The Lakers, facing the possibility of a 3-1 deficit, started the game trying to make a statement, with O'Neal scoring 15 of the Lakers' first 21 points and Kobe Bryant following with a 360-degree breakaway dunk.
But it didn't last. The Timberwolves scored the final nine points of the first quarter to take a 26-25 lead and held a 45-43 advantage at the end of the first half. At that point the Wolves had got 20 points from Troy Hudson and 10 and 11 rebounds from Garnett.
The Lakers appeared to be in great trouble with 1:57 left in the third quarter, when a 3-pointer by Hudson made it 74-63 for the Timberwolves. But Los Angeles scored the final 8 points of the quarter and then Kobe tied the game with a 3-pointer with 10:49 remaining.
The Timberwolves were ahead again 87-82 with 6:34 left. But the Lakers scored 6 straight points, to take the the lead for good 88-87 on a jumper by Devean George with 4:40 to play.
After Kevin Garnett got Minnesota within 96-95 on a shot from the arc with 35 seconds left, Bryant missed a hanging jumper in the lane, but O'Neal tipped in the rebound to make it 98-95 with 19 seconds to play.
Garnett was fouled four seconds later but missed both shots, and Bryant gave the Lakers a five-point lead with a pair from the line with 12 seconds left.
Garnett made it 100-97 with a turnaround jumper with 8.8 seconds remaining, but Bryant was perfect from the line again to give the game the final numbers with 7.2 left.
O'Neal, who made 13 of his 26 shots, was only 8-of-15 from the line but grabbed 10 offensive rebounds - two more than the Timberwolves. That was one of the keys for the Lakers victory because Los Angeles outscored Minnesota on second-chance points, 29-2.
This was Shaq's eighth career playoff game with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds.
The Lakers lost Rick Fox to a strained left ankle tendon with 6:37 left in the first quarter. He did not return.
Garnett scored 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for Minnesota, which held Los Angeles to 40 percent shooting (35-of-88) but connected on just 43 percent (36-of-83).
The Lakers got key points from George and Madsen, and Brian Shaw had 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting with 6 rebounds in 27 minutes. Shaw also applied a suffocating defensive pressure on Troy Hudson, who had his 28 points in the first three quarters, but zero in the fourth.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal (LAL): "I've got to get the damned ball, bring the ball and throw it to me every time. If I get the ball every time, I can do what I do and we're fine."
Brian Shaw (LAL): "When it's a critical game, he always comes in with that look in his eyes," Brian Shaw said of O'Neal. "You always know he's going to perform like he did tonight."
Kevin Garnett (Min): "It's like there's a heavyweight championship belt and we're trying to take it away, we're confident. We had them on the ropes, and they know it."

Highlights

O'Neal (LAL) 34 pts 23 reb 6 assist
Bryant (LAL) 32 pts 5 assist
Shaw (LAL): 10 pts 6 reb
Garnett (Min): 28 pts 18 reb 5 assist
Hudson: 28 pts / Szczerbiak 15 pts
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GAME 5:  Lakers 120 - Timberwolves 90

Lakers did what champions are supposed to do

click for Lakers Playoffs pictures (LA Times) (Kobe Bryant) TARGET CENTER - MINNEAPOLIS. For the first time in six years, the Lakers opened a playoff game without Rick Fox in uniform. He will miss the rest of the postseason with a torn tendon in his left foot that will require surgery. Fox was hurt early in the first quarter of the Lakers' 102-97 Game 4 victory over the Timberwolves.
But Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, O'Neal added 27 and they got great support from the role players, including 24 points from Derek Fisher in a 120-90 demolition of the Timberwolves that gave the Lakers a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference first-round series.
The Lakers had their best shooting game of the series, going 45 for 83 (54 percent), after going three consecutive games without breaking 40 percent from the field. On the other side Minnesota had the worst shooting performance of the series, going 36 for 84 (42.9 percent).
The Lakers also made 12-of-23 from 3-point range and held a 44-36 edge on the boards.
Kevin Garnett scored 25 points, but Troy Hudson finally returned to Earth, scoring a series-low 14 points.
As the Lakers took control early, Fisher scored 9 points in the first quarter, all on 3-pointers. O'Neal and Fisher had 16 points each by halftime.
The Timberwolves took their last lead at 40-39. But the Lakers ended the half with a 19-8 run and put the game away by scoring the first 7 points of the third quarter.
After a quiet first half, Bryant exploded in the third quarter. With 7:23 left, he got going with a spectacular play, driving past Garnett along the right baseline and coming up on the other side of the rim for a reverse dunk that made it 73-55.
Bryant had 14 more points in the rest of the quarter as the Lakers extended to a 94-73 bulge entering the final period. The Wolves got no closer than 18 points thereafter.
Kobe Bryant regained some of his shooting touch, scoring his 32 points on 12-for-21 shooting.
Fisher, who had been outplayed by Minnesota guard Troy Hudson, scored his 24 points on 8 of 10 attempts, including 5 of 7 3 pointers.
Robert Horry, a clutch playoff performer who had not made a 3-pointer in the first four games, made two in a second-quarter surge that gave the Lakers the lead for good.
The Lakers thoroughly outclassed the Timberwolves by playing their 600th playoff game in search of their 15th championship, while the Wolves were playing their 28th playoff game in search of their first series win.
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders told his players to exploit Fox's loss by getting at least 20 shots from Wally Szczerbiak. But George replacing Fox, did a good job on Szczerbiak who finished with 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting.
George played with confidence in his hometown and had one of the best games of his playoff career: 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Lakers scored 29 points off 17 Minnesota turnovers, while committing only 7 turnovers themselves for 4 points.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LA) "To be honest with you, when you hear an accident happens to a ballplayer and he's out, you just pencil the guy out... we just move on... guys know the rotation and what direction we'll go. We just talked to Devean (George) about doing the defensive job that Rick's done for us."
Kobe Bryant
(LA) "My teammates were really excited about my dunk, a slam like that can demoralize a team and silence the crowd. I'm interested to see it on tape."

Highlights

Bryant (LAL) 32 pts 8 reb 5 assist
O'Neal (LAL) 27 pts 11 reb
Fisher (LAL) 24 pts (5 3pt) 4 steal
George (LAL) 12 pts 8 reb 6 assist
Horry (LAL) 12 pts
Garnett (Min) 25 pts 16 reb
Hudson (Min) 14 pts 7 assist
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GAME 6:  Lakers 101 - Timberwolves 85

7 in a row (1st round eliminations for the Wolves)

click for Lakers Playoffs pictures (LA Times) (Kobe Bryant) STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. The Lakers eliminated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night making them the first team in NBA history to lose in the first round of the playoffs 7 consecutive season.
The Lakers defeated the Wolves 101-85, and so advanced to the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday night in San Antonio. The Spurs swept all four regular-season matchups with the Lakers this season, but the Lakers eliminated the Spurs in best of seven series in each of the last two postseasons, in a total of 9 games (2001: 4-0 / 2002: 4-1).
Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 31 points in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter, and Shaquille O'Neal had 24 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists, just missing a triple-double. His teammates tried to get him his 10th assist in the final minutes and he almost got it when he fed Horry for a layup with 3 minutes to go, but Horry was fouled by Rasho Nesterovic, resulting in a chorus of boos from the crowd.
For the second straight game all Lakers starters scored in double figures. Derek Fisher scored 16 points, Devean George added 12 points and 8 rebounds and Robert Horry had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Garnett had his sixth straight double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds and Troy Hudson also had 18 points for the Wolves. But Hudson scored just 4 after the first quarter. Wally Szczerbiak added 14 points.
Minnesota built a 30-25 advantage in the first quarter, but the Timberwolves had just 5 baskets and 13 points in the second period allowing Los Angeles to take a 47-43 lead into halftime.
The Lakers opened the second half with a 10-2 run that Bryant and Fisher capped with 3-pointers. Fisher's basket with 2:40 remaining gave the Lakers a 69-54 advantage before Minnesota scored the final 9 points of the third quarter to get within 69-63. But Kobe outscored the Timberwolves 10-2 by himself to start the final period, shooting 5-of-5.
That explosion was the beginning of an 18-2 run to open the quarter that included an alley-oop dunk by Devean George off a assist from Bryant. Two free throws by Shaq ended it and made it 87-65 with over 7 minutes left.
The only suspense after that was whether Shaq would get his triple-double.
The Lakers won their 13th consecutive playoff series, all under Jackson who extended his NBA record to 25 consecutive series.
Jackson's playoff record is 160-56, including 49-15 as coach of the Lakers. His 160 postseason wins are the most in NBA history, five ahead of Pat Riley, and Jackson's playoff winning percentage of .741 is also a record. He has coached 9 championship teams, tying him with former Boston coach Red Auerbach for the NBA record. Auerbach coached the Celtics to 17 straight series victories, second-most in league history.

The Quotes

Kevin Garnett (Min) "I am disappointed, we did a lot of good things in this series. But they turned it up when they had to."
Flip Saunders (Min coach) "They scored 101 points and their two main players had something to do with 89 of their 101 points... you look at the number of points they scored and the 17 assists. That is a great statistic." "Kobe was phenomenal, we doubled him and couldn't keep him from scoring."

Highlights

Bryant (LAL) 31 pts 8 assist
O'Neal (LAL) 24 pts 17 reb 9 assist 3 block
Fisher (LAL) 16 pts
George
(LAL) 12 pts 8 reb 5 assist
Horry (LAL) 11 pts 10 reb 6assist
Garnett (Min): 18 pts 12 reb
Hudson: 18 pts Szczerbiak 14 pts 6 reb
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