<
>

Wolves make free throws down stretch in win

4/25/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves got the biggest
win in franchise history with their best player watching from the
bench.

And it was driving Kevin Garnett crazy.

With Garnett on the sideline after fouling out early in overtime
on a questionable call, the Timberwolves made seven free throws in
the final 24.3 seconds to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-110
Thursday night and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"It was miserable, knowing I couldn't come out there and help
my team,'' Garnett said. "I thought of other ways to help out,
motivate, help the guys get over the edge.

"I was going to be a T-Wolves cheerleader without the skirt and
pom-poms.''

Garnett had 33 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four
blocked shots before fouling out in the first 12 seconds of
overtime. He had a hand on Robert Horry's back while defending an
inbounds play, and Horry appeared to flop to the floor.

"I didn't even touch him. I know how to foul,'' Garnett said.

Garnett walked to the bench incredulously, but the Timberwolves
found a way to win anyway.

Minnesota has never won a playoff series, being eliminated in
the first round in each of the last six years.

Game 4 is Sunday at Staples Center, where the Lakers won their
final 15 home games in the regular season.

This, however, is the playoffs. And that streak means nothing
now.

"I think we relaxed a little bit when Garnett went out of the
ballgame,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They got some
rebounds and some things that were really fortunate for them down
the stretch.''

Gary Trent's two free throws -- his only points of the game --
gave the Timberwolves a 109-108 lead with 24.3 seconds left.

After Kobe Bryant missed a driving bank shot, Marc Jackson made
two foul shots with 11.6 seconds left. Shaquille O'Neal's made one
of two before Jackson added another free throw with 7.7 seconds to
go.

Bryant missed a 3-pointer with about three seconds to play that
could have tied the score, and Troy Hudson made two free throws to
complete the scoring.

Hudson added 27 points, Wally Szczerbiak scored 13 and Jackson
had 12.

"When you have a superstar go out of the game, it usually takes
the breath out of a team,'' Hudson said. "Our guys just stepped
up.

"He just told us, 'Those five guys who are out there, you have
to believe in yourselves.' "

Clearly, the Timberwolves did.

Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points. O'Neal had 28 points and
17 rebounds and Derek Fisher scored 23, but none after the third
quarter.

"We have been in similar situations,'' Bryant said. "We know
how to deal with this.''

The Timberwolves appeared to have the game wrapped up after
Hudson made two free throws with 22.8 seconds left in the fourth
quarter, giving them a 101-96 lead.

But Bryant made a 3-pointer five seconds later, was fouled by
Szczerbiak on another questionable call and completed the
four-point play to cut Minnesota's lead to one.

The Timberwolves committed a turnover trying to inbound the
ball, and Bryant was fouled by Rasho Nesterovic -- who was standing
still with his hands straight up -- on a drive to the basket with
12.1 seconds to play. It was Nesterovic's sixth foul.

Bryant missed the first foul shot but made the second, tying the
game at 101. Hudson's long jumper as time expired didn't come
close, sending the game to overtime.

Jannero Pargo made two free throws after another suspect foul
call, putting the Lakers ahead 108-107 with 47.7 seconds left in
overtime. Trent was then fouled by Bryant on a jumper and put the
Wolves ahead for good.

"We're still going against the world champions, they're not
going to fold,'' Minnesota's Anthony Peeler said.

After being held scoreless for nearly 15½ minutes, Garnett
scored eight points in the final 3:47 to help the Timberwolves get
their five-point lead.

The Timberwolves had led by as many as 13 points before the
Lakers outscored them 18-7 to start the fourth quarter to go ahead
89-87.

Garnett's three-point play with 7:13 remaining in the third
quarter gave him 11 points in the period, and Hudson's jumper
nearly a minute later extended Minnesota's lead to 69-56 -- the
largest of the game for either team.

Game notes
Horry started instead of Mark Madsen, getting the
unenviable assignment of guarding Garnett. Jackson said the move
was made to get his best players on the floor to begin the game.
... Horry was fined $10,000 for shoving a cameraman at halftime of
Game 2 in Minnesota on Tuesday night. Horry refused comment except
to say he would appeal "unless they're giving it to charity, doing
something good with it.'' ... When asked if the fine was fair,
Jackson replied: "Of course not. Are fines ever fair? What is
this, the fining league?'' ... The Timberwolves entered with a 3-24
record against the Lakers in Los Angeles, including a 110-107
victory Dec. 1 that snapped a 16-game losing streak. "I think it
helps that we won here earlier this year,'' Saunders said before
the game. ... Jackson said he didn't mind the late start -- the game
began at 8:15 p.m. PDT. But he quickly added: "Obviously they
don't want any of the East Coast audience watching our game.''