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Shaq Attack: O'Neal Lifts L.A.


New players, different result.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves last met on Feb. 11, but 33 days and six new starters later, they staged a complete turnaround Tuesday night at Target Center.

The Lakers avenged an earlier loss to the Wolves with a 107-101 victory. And with a healthy Shaquille O'Neal teaming with recently acquired Glen Rice, Los Angeles found the offense that was lacking in the last meeting, an 86-75 loss, and overtook Minnesota with a fourth-quarter shooting exhibition.

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Game Summary

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  • Rice scored eight of his 22 points in the final 5:10, including the 3-pointer that gave the Lakers the lead for good at 98-95 with 2:55 to play. He hit two crucial 3-pointers during the stretch, both on outlet passes from the double-teamed O'Neal.

    "I've never had a chance to play with a dominant center like Shaquille," Rice said. "It's the greatest feeling in the world."

    Kobe Bryant added 11 of his 21 points in the final quarter. The Lakers (17-7) made 9-of-16 field goals during the fourth quarter to win their 11th game in 12 tries since Kurt Rambis replaced Del Harris as coach.

    O'Neal, who missed the last meeting with a strained right groin, led all scorers with 24 points.

    "We have big-time players," Rambis said. "We have money players who can hit big shots. That's their job."

    Minnesota (13-10), meanwhile, lost its third straight game and fourth in five tries since trading Stephon Marbury to the New Jersey Nets on Thursday The Wolves have also lost shooting guards Anthony Peeler and Malik Sealy to injuries, leaving them with only three healthy guards.

    Still the Wolves led 95-92 with 3:55 to play on Kevin Garnett's first 3-pointer of the year.

    But Derek Harper answered with a 3-pointer, and Rice followed with another. After Terrell Brandon hit a jumper to cut the lead to one, Bryant scored on a reverse layup and a 3-pointer off an O'Neal outlet to push the lead to 103-97.

    "They made some big shots and we never recovered," Garnett said. "We're not using the changes as an excuse. We've got guys out hurt, but we just have to regroup and find some way to win."

    They nearly won on Tuesday because of second chances. The Wolves tied a team record with 28 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Lakers 51-38. Los Angeles played its second straight game without Dennis Rodman, who has taken a leave from the team for personal reasons.

    "I told our guys I can't fault them," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. "We played hard. Any time you have 28 offensive rebounds, you have played hard."

    All five Minnesota starters scored in double figures, led by Joe Smith's 22 and Garnett's 21. Garnett added 11 rebounds and nine assists. Brandon had 18 points and seven assists.

    Notes

    • The Wolves placed Peeler on the injured list with a strained left calf and activated center Trevor Winter. Peeler injured the calf during Monday's game against Utah.
    • Los Angeles leads the series 29-8 and have won 10 of the past 12 meetings.
    • Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton attended the game after visiting the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. during the day.
    • The attendance of 19,006 marked Minnesota's second sellout this year, the other coming in the Lakers' previous game at Target Center.

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