KG takes over in fourth quarter to keep L.A. at bay

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Garnett was criticized in the playoffs

last year for not being selfish enough down the stretch. On Tuesday

night, he showed he can indeed take over a game in the fourth

quarter.

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color="#666666">Garnett

Garnett had 35 points and 20 rebounds, and he made four of his

five field-goal attempts in the final period as the Minnesota

Timberwolves defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 119-91 to even their

first-round series at one game each.

"He just stepped up and played big,'' teammate Wally Szczerbiak

said. "He's been doing that all year for us, and that's why I

think he should be the MVP of the league.''

Troy Hudson added 37 points for Minnesota, which was eliminated

in the first round the past six seasons.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Los Angeles, where the Wolves are

3-24 all-time against the Lakers.

"I don't think they can play any better than that,'' Los

Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "They played a desperate game.''

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 27 points and 14

rebounds.

Kobe Bryant, the other half of the Lakers' dominant duo, had 27

points on 9-of-28 shooting -- far below his sensational 39-point

performance in Sunday's opener. The Lakers won that game 117-98 to

swipe home-court advantage from the Timberwolves.

O'Neal wasn't around in the locker room afterward to comment,

but Bryant spoke for him and said the big man wasn't distracted.

"It didn't seem like his trip had any effect,'' Bryant said.

Hudson's 37 points set a franchise record for a playoff game. He

averaged only 14.2 points during the regular season, and his best

effort was 31.

"I was just staying aggressive, like the coaches told me to,''

Hudson said.

The Lakers had their most lopsided postseason loss since 2000,

when the Indiana Pacers beat them 120-87 in Game 5 of the NBA

Finals.

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. Los Angeles got to 96-83

on a free throw by O'Neal, but Garnett made two jumpers, sandwiched

around two free throws by Hudson to push the lead back to 19.

Garnett's last basket -- a jumper from 12 feet -- elicited a

thunderous chant of "MVP'' from the crowd.

His teammates were only 4-for-16 from the field in the final

period, and all the baskets came in garbage time.

Szczerbiak had 21 points, and Marc Jackson had 12 off the bench

for the Timberwolves, who shot 55.6 percent from the field.

Minnesota shot 50 percent in Game 1 and still lost by 19, which

made Tuesday night's result all the more surprising.

"It was nice to see your shots falling and see you're in the

lead,'' Szczerbiak said.

Defense was the reason for that. The Wolves played much tougher

on-the-ball defense, denied the passing lanes and held the Lakers to 36.3 shooting.

"Just got after it, man,'' Garnett said. "We have a lot of

confidence in ourselves on both ends. We just pressured up.''

Bryant was fouled hard on his right shoulder by Garnett on his

first shot of the second half, and he grimaced as he made his way

to the foul line.

He wore a pained look on his face for most of the game, in fact,

but mostly out of frustration. Anthony Peeler played tight defense

and helped limit him to 1-for-8 shooting in the third quarter as

Minnesota put the game away.

"We came out ready to play,'' Bryant said. "They just played

better than we did.''

After trailing for all of Game 1, the Timberwolves emerged with

an abundance of energy and quickly scored the first eight points to

get the fans on their feet.

Coach Flip Saunders started Peeler in place of Joe Smith, who

didn't even play. Peeler and Hudson effectively pushed the ball up

the floor and ran a solid transition game.

With Smith starting in Game 1, Szczerbiak played shooting guard

and was too busy trying to chase Bryant on the defensive end to

find a rhythm on offense. But the small lineup worked well.

The Wolves matched the Lakers' seven 3-pointers after being

outscored 30-3 from beyond the arc Sunday.

They took a 57-43 halftime lead when Hudson hit a 3-pointer at

the horn as he was falling backward toward the sideline. Hudson

sprang to his feet and gave Garnett and Szczerbiak a hard slap of

the hand as they jogged off the court.

Minnesota broke it open in the third period with an 11-0 run, on

3-pointers by Garnett, Peeler and Hudson, to go ahead 70-47.

"They played with desire to stay in the series,'' said Lakers

forward Rick Fox, later repeating the words of his coach. "They

played with desperation.''

Game notes

Paid attendance was 17,132, up 35 from Sunday but still

nearly 2,000 less than capacity. ... The Timberwolves used their

small lineup 28 times during the regular season and went 18-10. ...

The Lakers lost for only the second time in 30 Game 2s after

winning a Game 1.