Saturday , Mar , 13 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Mailman doesn’t deliver in Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) – Troy Hudson was a major catalyst off the
bench, scoring 19 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 96-86 win
over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Target Center.

Kevin Garnett led the way with 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Timberwolves
won for just the second time in five games. Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell
chipped in 17 and 16 points, respectively, as Minnesota beat the Lakers for
the third straight time.

“When our minds are right, we’re a tough matchup,” Cassell said.

Los Angeles had its starting lineup back in tact for the first time since
December 21, but it still was not enough to get a win on Minnesota’s
homecourt. After missing 29 games with a knee injury, Karl Malone returned to
net 13 points in 21 minutes.

“We feel like when Karl was on the floor, we played them even,” Los Angeles
coach Phil Jackson said. “When he came out, it changed the complexion of the
game.”

Shaquille O’Neal topped all scorers with 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds
for the Lakers, losers in two of their last three contests. Kobe Bryant also
recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards.

Down by four at the half, the Lakers stayed close in the third quarter and
eventually tied it at 56-56 on a Malone free throw with 4:46 to go.

However, they failed to take the lead on four separate occasions and the
Wolves rallied for five straight points two minutes later to assume a 68-62
advantage.

After Hudson drained a three with four seconds left to make it 74-66, Kareem
Rush ran up the floor to bury one of his own just beyond the arc at the third-
quarter buzzer to narrow the gap to five.

Hudson hit another three on Minnesota’s first possession of the fourth to
ignite a 7-0 run that gave the team an 81-69 cushion.

“Troy Hudson absolutely loves playing against us,” Bryant said. “But if
everything was flowing right, we could have won this game.”

Los Angeles answered with back-to-back buckets to get within eight, but that
was as close as it would get the rest of the way.

A jumper by Garnett with 5:36 remaining gave the Timberwolves their biggest
lead of the night, 87-75, and LA could do nothing to mount a late charge.

After a tightly-contested first quarter, Hudson opened the second with four
straight points to ignite an 8-2 spurt, handing the Wolves a 31-23 lead three
minutes in.

O’Neal countered with five points over the next two minutes to help the Lakers
pull within 33-30. But Minnesota re-gained an eight-point advantage at 43-35
with 3:06 to go before halftime on back-to-back buckets by Sprewell and
Cassell.

A layup by Malone got LA back within four less than a minute later, and that
was the difference at the break as the Timberwolves, with three players
already in double figures, held a 45-41 edge going into the locker room.

Sprewell paced Minnesota with 11 points, one more than Cassell and Garnett,
while O’Neal led all scorers with 12 in addition to his 11 boards.

LAL MIN