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NBA Game Summary - Minnesota at LA Lakers

(Thursday, March 31st)

Final Score: Minnesota 105, LA Lakers 96

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kevin Garnett led seven players in double figures with 23 points, as the Minnesota Timberwolves inched closer to a possible playoff berth with a 105-96 victory over the fading Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

Wally Szczerbiak and Sam Cassell each scored 15 points for Minnesota, which has won five straight and now trails both the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies by two games for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. Trenton Hassell added 16 points in the win.

"We're making the (playoff) push," said Garnett. "We're just playing good basketball."

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points for the Lakers, whose playoff hopes continue to dwindle with their ninth loss in the last 10 overall. Los Angeles, which could miss the postseason for the first time since 1994, sits 6 1/2 games out.

Caron Butler netted 22 points while Chris Mihm added 11 points and 10 boards in the loss.

Minnesota went into the locker room at the half with a four-point lead, but took control of the ballgame in the third quarter, outscoring the Lakers 35-26.

After Mihm converted a layup under the 10-minute mark to bring the Lakers within two points, 44-42, the Timberwolves slowly began to build a lead that they would never relinquish.

"We played very good offense in the second half," said Minnesota head coach Kevin McHale.

A three-pointer by Troy Hudson made it 54-48 with 7:20 remaining in the stanza and several minutes later, a dunk by Hassell gave Minnesota a seven-point lead, 60-53.

"We had good balance tonight," said McHale of the various players who chipped in points.

Near the end of the period, Bryant's two free throws brought LA within six, but Latrell Sprewell answered over the next three possessions with a pair of layups that sandwiched a Garnett jumper for a 70-60 advantage.

Szczerbiak completed the third-quarter scoring with a three-pointer that sent the visitors into the final frame with a 77-64 lead.

The story was much the same in the fourth. The Lakers on several occasions cut their deficit to single digits, but the Timberwolves were simply too much. Midway through, Bryant's runner in the lane brought LA within 86-77, but Hassell answered with a long jumper and Garnett followed with two free throws for a 90-77 advantage.

Cassell soon after sealed the victory when he banked home a three-pointer that made the score 97-83 with 3:20 to go. The Lakers never seriously threatened again.

"We had a game we had to get, now we've got 10 games left," said McHale.

Game Notes

The Lakers have allowed over 100 points in 15 of their last 19 games...Sprewell and Troy Hudson ended with 11 points each for Minnesota, which outrebounded the Lakers 42-39...The visitors shot 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc and finished 53 percent overall from the field.

04/01 01:47:29 ET

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