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Minnesota Timberwolves (1-1) at Los Angeles Lakers (1-1), 11 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers try to take a 2-1 lead in their
best-of-seven series when they welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to Staples
The Timberwolves actually looked like a team that believed in itself en route
to a 119-91 blowout win over the three-time defending champions in Game 2.
Kevin Garnett had a monster night. Garnett finished with 35 points, 20
rebounds and seven assists. This was a great night for KG, but the real
surprise was that he wasn't a one-man show. Troy Hudson finished with 37
points and 10 assists.
Wolves coach Flip Saunders employed a different strategy in Game 2. He sent
Joe Smith to the bench, slid Wally Szczerbiak to from shooting guard to small
forward, and started a backcourt of Hudson and Anthony Peeler. Minny's guards
were able to push the ball up the floor and get a running game going, which is
definitely a style that favors the Timberwolves.
"Now we have the recipe for success," said Szczerbiak. "There are going to be
nights when shots aren't falling... but when you can play defense, when you
can have them on their heels, you can win."
The lineup shift left Szczerbiak guarding Rick Fox as opposed to Kobe Bryant.
This allowed him to me more of an offensive decoy, and the quicker, smaller
guards were able to play the game at a more frenetic pace.
Following an ugly, 19-point loss in Sunday's Game 1, Minnesota knew it needed
to change its approach. The Wolves wanted to come out more aggressive. They
knew they had to hold the tandem of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant under 60
points, and they also knew Garnett would need a teammate to step up and join
him on the offensive end. Hudson did his part, and Szczerbiak added 21 points
to the victory. As for Bryant and O'Neal, they combined for 54 points.
Whether this means the Wolves can win three of the next five games in the
series or not is highly debatable. But after such a meek effort in Game 1, the
Wolves at least proved that they weren't going down without a fight.
"They have to stab us, cut our heart out, put us in the morgue. We're not
going to lay down. We are a team full of pride and we have a lot of character
on this team," said Garnett. "They're going to have to cut our throats, rip
our tongues out."
Target Center exploded early and the crowd was vocal throughout the game.
Chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" for Garnett rained down from the rafters, then
eventually gave way to chants of "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!"
As for the Lakers, O'Neal arrived late on Tuesday after attending the funeral
of his paternal grandfather on Monday. He flew back from South Carolina, and
missed the Lakers' morning shootaround. O'Neal did not stick around to talk to
the media, but Bryant spoke on his behalf.
"It didn't seem like his trip had any effect," Bryant said.
Coach Phil Jackson is not overly concerned at this point.
"I don't think they can play any better than that," Jackson said.
"They played a desperate game."
With the victory, the Wolves are still just 6-18 in the playoffs over the last
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