Highlight reel: Rick Fox looked downcast during a pregame interview with Channel 9’s John Ireland, speaking in hushed tones about the foot injury that will sideline him for the rest of the playoffs. Of course, it didn’t help that TV cameras caught Fox hobbling down a Target Center hallway on crutches as he was nearly run over by a beat writer from a Southland newspaper who was no doubt chasing an important pregame note. Fortunately, there was no harm, no foul.
Not in the box score: Fox’s name won’t be in any more box scores this season. Devean George, a Minneapolis native, replaced Fox in the starting lineup and promptly gave the Lakers a boost with his energetic play around the basket. After Kobe Bryant’s miss early, George leaped for the rebound and scored to give the Lakers a 10-4 lead. Later, George made a three-point basket that put the Lakers ahead, 23-19.
Winning numbers: The Lakers’ early 8-2 lead.
Wrong numbers: Shaquille O’Neal’s second foul with 13.2 seconds left.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Derek Fisher 9, Bryant 8; Timberwolves -- Kevin Garnett 7.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- O’Neal 4; Timberwolves -- Garnett 4.
Highlight reel: Robert Horry made a three-point shot at long last, then made another, ending an 0-for-13 skid that had been painful to watch. On the second three-pointer, which gave the Lakers a 43-40 lead late in the half, Phil Jackson had been signaling for a timeout from the sideline. Horry, with his confidence suddenly returned, ignored him.
Not in the box score: Garnett set the sort of pick on Fisher that makes players very angry. The Timberwolves have excelled, as so many other teams have against the Lakers, with a potent pick-and-roll some distance from the basket. This time, Garnett extended his right leg in order to better pick off Fisher and free Troy Hudson. Garnett should have drawn a foul for kneeing Fisher in the thigh. Do that in a pick-up game and you’ll wind up with an elbow in your ear on the next possession. O’Neal responded with six points down the stretch to extend the lead to 12 points moments before halftime.
Winning numbers: The Lakers’ 18-6 run to close the half.
Wrong numbers: Minnesota’s 10-point deficit by halftime.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- O’Neal 9, Fisher 8, Horry 8; Timberwolves -- Hudson 8.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- Brian Shaw 3; Timberwolves -- Garnett 3.
Highlight reel: Pick any of the shots that led to Bryant’s 16 points in the quarter. His driving reverse dunk, sweeping in along the right baseline and looking for all the world as if he would simply drop the ball over the rim but slamming it home instead, was probably the most eye-popping of his hoops. Still, Minnesota was within 14 points before Fisher made a three-pointer for an 84-67 lead. It was all Lakers after that, with the Timberwolves wilting the rest of the way and their fans heading early for the exits.
Not in the box score: An answer for the Lakers’ best quarter of the series so far. Garnett appeared desperate to lead his teammates, his turnaround jump shots moving ever farther from the basket. Horry’s best work of the playoffs to this point helped the Lakers neutralize Garnett for the most part. Shaw’s defense on Hudson, blanking him in the quarter, also should not go without mention.
Winning number: Zero turnovers for the Lakers in the quarter.
Wrong numbers: Hudson’s zero points on 0-for-four shooting.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Bryant 16; Timberwolves -- Garnett 9.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- O’Neal 3; Timberwolves -- Garnett 3.
Highlight reel: To paraphrase Bill Murray in the film “Caddyshack,” “Au revoir, Gophers.” The Lakers sent an unmistakable message to the Timberwolves (and perhaps the rest of the league) in Game 5. They still need another victory to set up a much-anticipated second-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, who are a victory away from finishing off the Phoenix Suns. Game 6 in each series is Thursday, with the Lakers expected to eliminate the Timberwolves at Staples Center and the Spurs set to end the Suns’ season at Phoenix.
Not in the box score: The Lakers muzzled Hudson, at long last silencing him and taking away any hope the Timberwolves had of rallying. Hudson, averaging 27 points before Game 5, finally looked like a guy who has played with four NBA teams after going undrafted from Southern Illinois. All those Laker fastbreaks were keyed by standout defensive play, particularly from the quick-handed Shaw.
Winning numbers: Three down, one to go for the Lakers.
Wrong numbers: The Timberwolves were outscored, 62-42, in the second half.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Bryant 7; Timberwolves -- Several with 3.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- O’Neal 4; Timberwolves -- Garnett 6.