Lakers Top Wolves; Pacers Avoid Exit
The Los Angeles Lakers extricated themselves from immediate danger, at least for a day or two, while the Indiana Pacers survived to play another elimination game.
The New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, moved within one victory of advancing to the second round.
Tuesday night was a busy one in the NBA playoffs, just as Wednesday and Thursday will be.
The Lakers took a series 3-2 lead on Minnesota with a 120-90 victory, and Indiana had what the NBA record book listed as the first overtime shutout in modern postseason history by defeating Boston 93-88 to cut the Celtics’ lead in their best-of-seven series to 3-2.
New Jersey played well down the stretch to defeat Milwaukee 89-82 for a 3-2 lead, while San Antonio opened a big early edge and held off Phoenix 94-82 to open a 3-2 lead.
Four more Game 5s are scheduled for Wednesday: New Orleans at Philadelphia, Orlando at Detroit, Portland at Dallas and Utah at Sacramento. The 76ers, Magic, Mavericks and Kings all hold 3-1 leads.
All four series that were played Tuesday will continue Thursday.
Lakers 120, Timberwolves 90
At Minneapolis, Kobe Bryant had 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter, Shaquille O’Neal added 27 points, Derek Fisher had 24 and Robert Horry scored 12 while playing good defense on Kevin Garnett.
Stretching a 10-point halftime lead to 21 by the end of the third quarter and to 30 late in the fourth, the three-time defending champions rediscovered their shooting touch and their offensive flow.
``Sense of urgency, really,″ Bryant said. ``Crucial game.″
Fisher had five 3-pointers, and the Lakers _ 12-for-23 from beyond the arc _ shot 54 percent from the field. Horry, who missed his first 11 attempts from 3-point range in this series, finally made a pair to help the Lakers overcome the absence of starting forward Rick Fox.
``That’s the team I recognize,″ coach Phil Jackson said. ``Moving the ball and limiting turnovers. We wanted to be sure we struck first and were aggressive.″
The Target Center, sold out for the first time this series, was roaring in the game’s opening stages but nearly empty at the end. Garnett had 25 points and 16 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who are one loss away from a seventh straight first-round exit.
Pacers 93, Celtics 88, OT
At Indianapolis, Ron Artest had 26 points and 10 rebounds, making the go-ahead free throw in overtime after blocking Paul Pierce’s shot at the end of regulation.
History hasn’t been kind to teams trailing 3-1 in the NBA playoffs, with only six having come back from that deficit.
``It’s a very weak pulse. Obviously it’s a little stronger,″ Reggie Miller said after the Pacers scored all five points in overtime.
To advance, however, the Pacers will have to rediscover a level of sustained success that’s been missing for months. Since they were 37-15 on Feb. 14, they’ve had only one three-game winning streak.
``It’s our turn to try and steal a win up there,″ Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. ``It’s our last crack at it.″
Jermaine O’Neal had 19 points and a team playoff-record 22 rebounds.
After scoring 32 points in the second half of Game 4, Pierce wasn’t a factor in the first half of Game 5. He took only three shots, and two of those were airballs on step-back jumpers against Artest.
Nets 89, Bucks 82
At East Rutherford, N.J., Richard Jefferson had 17 points and a career-best 16 rebounds and the Nets atoned for a foul-line disaster in the previous game by hitting 11 of 12 free throws in the final 2:35
``It’s about surviving, they are not all going to be a Picasso painting _ pretty,″ said Kidd, who had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in a game that featured eight technical fouls, 62 personal fouls, 70 free throws and lots of lousy shooting.
Toni Kukoc had 18 points and Sam Cassell and Gary Payton added 16 apiece for Milwaukee, which had only one field goal in the final 6:21.
Spurs 94, Suns 82
At San Antonio, the Spurs opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter, built it to 24 by halftime and then had to hang on.
The Suns, who erased big leads in their victories in Games 1 and 4, pulled within six with 1:49 to play on a drive by Stephon Marbury, but Tim Duncan made all six of his foul shots in the final minute to help secure the win.
``We knew they were going to make some kind of run,″ Duncan said. ``But we kept our composure and sustained throughout.″
Reserve Malik Rose led the Spurs with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Duncan added 23 points and 17 rebounds.