Wednesday , May , 26 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe takes over second half to lead LA over T-Wolves

=== Kobe takes over second half to lead LA over T-Wolves ===

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant scored all of his 22 points in
the second half, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 100-89 win over Minnesota
in Game 3 of their Western Conference series at the Staples Center.

Shaquille O’Neal added 22 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who now hold
a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday
again in Los Angeles.

“Today was a scrappy game and we just scrapped it out,” said O’Neal.

Kevin Garnett had 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the
Timberwolves, who are appearing in their first conference finals series and
now face a tough road ahead. Minnesota has to win three of the last four games
with two of the remaining tilts in Los Angeles.

“Nothing is easy,” said Garnett. “We must do a better job defensively.”

Leading by six points, 78-72, after Garnett hit a pair of free throws with
8:19 left, Los Angeles went on a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach. Bryant
had eight points during the spurt, hitting consecutive three-pointers to cap
it and give the Lakers a 91-74 lead with 4:46 left.

Minnesota made one last run at it in the final minutes led by Latrell

Sprewell scored eight points during an 11-2 run that ensued to draw the
Timberwolves within 93-85 with 2:57 left. He had two three-pointers during the
burst, and later hit a trey with 1:50 left to get to 95-88.

But that would be as close as the Timberwolves would get, as Darrick Martin
had a three-pointer bounce off the rim with 1:20 left.

Sprewell ended with 18 points and Wally Szczerbiak came off the bench with 21
for Minnesota, which shot 44.7 percent from the floor.

Gary Payton had 18 points and nine assists for the Lakers, who went for 51.5
percent from the floor.

“(Payton) had a lot of opportunities in the first half and he took advantage
of those opportunities,” said O’Neal.

Karl Malone, who was fined $7,500 for his flagrant foul on Martin in Game 2,
ended with 11 points and six rebounds.

The first half saw the Lakers hold a 44-35 lead, despite Bryant going 0-for-2
from the floor and O’Neal scoring just eight points.

Bryant had never been held scoreless in a playoff start in his career, while
he last went without a first-half point on May 24, 1998 versus Utah.

Payton picked up the slack in the first half, scoring 14 points.

In the third, the Timberwolves got to 60-57 on a Szczerbiak jumper with 3:17
left. Szczerbiak later hit two free throws with 2:09 on the clock to get
within 63-61.

That would be as close as Minnesota would get the rest of the game.