Final

Los Angeles wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Los Angeles wins series 4-2

Game 1: Sunday, April 20th
Lakers117Final
Timberwolves98
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd
Lakers91Final
Timberwolves119
Game 3: Thursday, April 24th
Timberwolves114Final
OT
Lakers110
Game 4: Sunday, April 27th
Timberwolves97Final
Lakers102
Game 5: Tuesday, April 29th
Lakers120Final
Timberwolves90
Game 6: Thursday, May 1st
Timberwolves85Final
Lakers101

Lakers 117

(50-32, 19-22 away)

    2:30 PM ET, April 20, 2003

    Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 39 27 22 29117
    MIN 23 29 24 2298

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: K. Bryant 39 Pts, 5 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl

    Minnesota: K. Garnett 23 Pts, 14 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Wolves' nightmare a reality as Lakers play near-perfect

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers acknowledged being a little bored during the regular season, and that probably contributed to their poor record on the road.

    In the playoffs, though, the story remained the same for Kobe Bryant and the three-time defending champs -- even without the home-court advantage the Minnesota Timberwolves coveted.

    Shaq going to wake
    On Monday, Shaquille O'Neal will fly to South Carolina for the wake of his maternal grandfather, Sirlester O'Neal, and his brief absence places in question whether the Lakers' center will play in Tuesday's Game 2.

    The Lakers say O'Neal will return in time for Game 2. O'Neal said that he will either return to Minneapolis late Monday or possibly even on Tuesday. Game 2 is slated to tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. O'Neal added that he will 'play it by ear' as far as the specifics of his return go.

    Sirlester O'Neal died Thursday in South Carolina.

    --David Aldridge, ESPN

    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 Sunday.

    "You can tell by our intensity out there,'' forward Robert Horry said, "the playoffs is a totally different game.''

    Bryant scored 29 points in the first half, on 12-of-16 shooting. The Lakers led the entire game, shot 55 percent from the floor and went 10-for-19 from 3-point range.

    Game 2 is Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

    "They just shot the lights out of the ball,'' said forward Kevin Garnett. "We'll just have to do that on Tuesday.''

    Garnett had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists -- not nearly enough to help the Timberwolves win with home-court advantage for the first time in their history; they were eliminated in the opening round each of the past six years.

    "We're pretty experienced at taking crowds out of games,'' said Bryant. He later dismissed the idea that the Lakers were vulnerable without that extra home game in the first round.

    "I don't know what the big deal is about playing on the road,'' he said. "I've never seen fans scream loud enough to block my jump shot.''

    The Lakers, who overcame an 11-19 start to finish with 50 wins and grab the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference, were only 19-22 on the road during the regular season. But Los Angeles has won 17 of its last 19 postseason games away from Staples Center.

    "It's not the first time we've swum in the deep end of the pool, so we're comfortable this time of year,'' Rick Fox said.

    Bryant was active at both ends, helping hold Wally Szczerbiak to 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Bryant also was oblivious to whoever guarded him in the first half. After the Lakers scored 39 points in the first period, Bryant went 8-of-9 in the second, most of them long jumpers from the baseline.

    "He was, you know, pretty hot,'' Szczerbiak said. "I was trying to deny, anything, and he got it and hit shots with guys draped all over him.''

    The Lakers ran their triangle offense to near-perfection in the first 24 minutes, shooting 61.4 percent, committing just two turnovers and hitting 7-of-11 from 3-point range to take a 66-52 halftime lead. Fisher and Fox each had three 3-pointers in the first half.

    "When they're making 3s,'' Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said, "it's tough to defend.''

    O'Neal, whose wife, Shaunie, had a baby boy early Saturday, didn't have to contribute much. He had a routine 12 points in the first half, mostly easy dunks off the drive-and-dish from Bryant, but the mere presence of the 7-foot-1, 340-pound center was enough.

    O'Neal banged knees on a plodding drive to the hoop in the first quarter with Garnett -- who was wincing for the next half-minute -- and landed on Strickland's head as they fell to the floor after a foul in the second.

    O'Neal's grandfather died on Thursday, so his teammates told him they were going to win this for him.

    "If we keep playing like this,'' O'Neal said, "we'll be fine. I'm very confident that they can hold down the fort.''

    The Wolves were at least able to keep the deficit manageable, thanks to a productive effort from their bench and a 55-percent shooting effort in the first half.

    Marc Jackson had 11 points and Rod Strickland 10 to provide some relief for Garnett, who was guarded well by Mark Madsen.

    Saunders, the only coach in NBA history to lose six straight first-round playoff series, turned to a reporter sitting courtside just before the second half began and said, "Wanna switch spots?''

    The Wolves woke up a bit in the third with a 15-6 run as the Lakers turned skittish and sloppy on offense for a brief stretch. They cut the lead to 80-76 but found themselves down double digits again at the end of the quarter.

    "I don't think they felt any pressure at any point in the game,'' Saunders said of the Lakers.

    Game notes


    O'Neal was 10-for-13 from the foul line. ... Paid attendance was 17,097 -- nearly 2,000 short of capacity. ... 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. ... Devean George, who grew up in Minneapolis and played at Division III Augsburg College there, had 11 points for the Lakers. ... Joe Smith, whose status was uncertain because of a hyperextended knee, started for Minnesota but had only two points in 15 minutes.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    LAL
    MIN
    Points 117 98
    FGM-FGA 44-80 (.550) 38-76 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 10-19 (.526) 1-5 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 19-24 (.792) 21-27 (.778)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-35 8-34
    Assists 30 20
    Turnovers 11 11
    Steals 6 6
    Blocks 7 3
    Fast Break Points 2 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 20 (1/1)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Minnesota
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 39
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Kevin Garnett Garnett
    Points: 23
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2