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NBA PLAYOFFS MINNESOTA VS. LAKERS / SERIES REPORT /
TIMBERWOLF NOTES

If There's No Will, There's No Way

May 01, 2003|Mark Heisler | Times Staff Writer

Among the Timberwolves' diminishing list of positives, they're known for never letting up and the Lakers for just the opposite, so even if Minnesota trails, 3-2, with Game 6 on the Lakers' floor, this series isn't necessarily over.

"No question, when you get beat like we did, you're licking your wounds a bit," said Coach Flip Saunders Wednesday as the team practiced in Minneapolis before flying here.

"They [Lakers] and everybody else probably think this series is done.... As I told our guys, when we played how we're supposed to play, we've had some success. When we've played their game, we've gotten destroyed.

"It's going to be a question of will in Game 6: Will the Lakers play the way they want to play or will we play the way we want to play?"

Said Kevin Garnett after Game 5: "It's win or die. Basically, that's what it's down to. I hope they don't think this is over, 'cause we're coming."

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Since the Lakers don't double-team Garnett as much as other teams do, Wally Szczerbiak notes, they can concentrate on Garnett's teammates, such as him.

"I know I'm trying to do too much," Szczerbiak said. "You're stuck between a rock and a hard place. You try to be aggressive and get opportunities but it's not within the offense....

"They're really keying on me. I have to move it and have faith that it's going to come back to me."

Szczerbiak's faith he'll get the ball back isn't his strongest attribute, at times persuading him to try to drive the ball to the basket, as Timberwolf fans cover their eyes.

"We need a big game out of him," said teammate Troy Hudson of Szczerbiak. "We need him to get going. We've got to run our sets and get him some easy touches. When they're not doubling KG, it's tough for other guys to get clear shots. They're doing a great job of taking away his cuts."

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Who, us tired?

After Game 5, Saunders said Hudson and the other players were "worn down a little bit," after pressing for five games.

Hudson admits he was "a little tired" but doesn't have time for that now.

"It's the playoffs," he said. "Everybody's worn down. You can't let that be an excuse. You just have to somewhere find that energy, that extra effort and go at it."

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Saunders, on Rasho Nesterovic's two technical fouls in the series: "I watch all these playoff games on TV and I see the guys complaining to officials. Rasho says one thing and he gets technical fouls and he says it in Slovenian. It's like that commercial. 'Give it to Mikey, he'll eat anything.' "

Or maybe the referees have studied Slovenian for just such an eventuality.

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