Missing the mark

Timberwolves fall to Lakers as late three-pointers miss target

By Mike Wells

Knight Ridder Newspapers

LOS ANGELES -- For the second straight game, the three-point shot failed the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves wouldn't have minded going 1 for 14 on three-pointers against the Los Angeles Lakers if their one make was at the end of the game.


Latrell Sprewell and Troy Hudson missed game-tying three pointers in the final seconds in the Wolves' 93-90 loss to the Lakers at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.

After Jumaine Jones made two free throws with 10 seconds left, the Wolves came down and got a long three-point attempt from Sprewell. The ball was tapped back to Hudson, who in one motion caught it and shot it. The ball hit the back of the rim as time expired.

The Timberwolves (19-19) have lost 11 of their past 15 games. They went 12-3 last January, but are 3-8 this January.

Kevin Garnett led the Wolves with 27 points, and Sprewell added 23. The Wolves, who have lost two straight games, are 2 of 30 on three-pointers in their past two games. Chucky Atkins led the Lakers with 25 points.

After the teams went back and forth for most of the third quarter and early in the fourth, the Wolves took an 82-78 lead before the Lakers countered by tying the score at 86-86 on an Atkins three-pointer from the corner with 2:39 left.

Minnesota got a basket from Garnett and a layup from Wally Szczerbiak on a questionable goaltending call on Jones. Sprewell then missed a three-pointer from the corner, and Lakers went up 91-90 on a Caron Butler layup with 35 seconds left.

For the second time in less than two weeks, Garnett missed a potential game-tying or winning basket when his turnaround jumper over two defenders along the baseline rolled around the rim before falling out with 10 seconds left.

Just when you thought the Wolves' season couldn't any worse, they arrived in Los Angeles just seven hours before tipoff. The Wolves were scheduled to depart the Twin Cities for a 3 1⁄2-hour; flight at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, but a mechanical problem forced them to delay their departure. A 2:30 departure went to 4:30, then to 11 p.m. It wasn't until 9:30 p.m. and after having to wait at the airport all those hours that the team was told it wouldn't be leaving Tuesday.


Minnesota's problems still weren't over. The team was told to report to the airport at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, but the plane, which still wasn't ready to go, sat on the runway before finally departing at 10:45 a.m.

"I've never been through anything like that in my career," Johnson said. "You don't control the breakage and the repairing of the airplane. But it does completely change your day on how you go about things."

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