So trailing by six with 2:35 to play, coach Randy Wittman gave his 7-foot center the green light.
Guess what? It worked.
Mark Blount hit three straight 3-pointers in the final 2:20 of regulation and Minnesota overcame 40 points from Kobe Bryant in a thrilling 117-107 double-overtime victory over the Lakers.
Blount was just 2-for-6 from the field when the fourth quarter started, but he scored 11 of his 18 points in the period, nine of which came on 3s.
"He said he was too close, that's why he was missing," teammate Ricky Davis said. "He stepped back and started knocking them down."
Bryant scored 40 for the first time since Jan. 31, his longest 40-point drought of the season, and added 13 rebounds and eight assists. But he managed just three points in the two overtimes as the Lakers let one slip away.
"We have to learn how to close these games out, especially defensively," Bryant said. "We can't give guys open looks, no matter who it is."
Davis led Minnesota with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 56 minutes. His jumper gave Minnesota a 109-107 lead in the second overtime and Randy Foye added an acrobatic tip-in, then stole the ensuing inbounds pass to snap the Wolves' three-game losing streak.
Kevin Garnett added 26 points and 17 rebounds, but Blount was the hero in this one.
After the Wolves started the game 1-for-14 from long range and trailed by six with 2:30 to play, Blount started shooting. He entered the game 5 of 19 for the season from beyond the arc, but was 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night.
His last one pulled Minnesota within 97-96 with 47.7 seconds to play and Davis hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds to go to send the game into the first overtime.
As usual, Blount declined comment after the game.
"When we win or whenever we've needed big shots this year, he's come through and hit some big shots," Garnett said. "He was right on time today."
Once Blount got the Wolves to overtime, the zone defense stifled Bryant.
Bryant negated a 17-point third quarter by going just 1-for-4 with three points in the two overtimes as the Lakers lost their third straight.
"We never figured out how to attack it," Bryant said. "That's something that disrupted us and I think they played it the entire overtime."
Los Angeles led for the first 40 minutes, including 93-87 with 2:35 to play before Blount's barrage got Minnesota back in the game.
But the fun was just getting started.
Davis' 3-pointer with 1:01 to go in the first overtime gave Minnesota a 103-102 lead.
But Bryant came right back, swishing a long 3 from the right elbow for a 105-103 lead.
Davis tipped in a miss by Garnett at the other end with 3.3 seconds to go, sending the game into a second OT.
The Timberwolves outscored the Lakers 12-2 in the final overtime, with Smush Parker's driving layup 1:30 into the period the only basket for the Lakers. Parker finished with 24 points, but missed three free throws in the first overtime that could have put the game out of reach.
And with Lamar Odom (labrum), Luke Walton (ankle) and Vladimir Radmanovic (shoulder) all out with injuries, the Timberwolves were finally able to wear down Bryant and the Lakers in 58 grueling minutes.
"We just contained everybody else," Garnett said. "We knew he was going to take the bulk of the shots. You could tell by his demeanor.
"Once he did that, the other guys didn't have much rhythm, so we took advantage of that."
|Ricky Davis (33 points) and the T-Wolves give the Lakers a wild ride en route to a 2OT victory. (AP)|
|L.A. Lakers (33-28)||28||25||25||20||7||2||107|
|Minnesota (27-33) «||23||27||21||27||7||12||117|
|LAL:K. Bryant 40 Pts
LAL:K. Bryant 13 Reb
LAL:K. Bryant 8 Ast
|MIN:R. Davis 33 Pts
MIN:K. Garnett 17 Reb
MIN:R. Davis 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|K. Bryant, SG||53||13-30||11-13||13||8||3||40|
|B. Cook, PF||49||4-15||4-4||8||0||3||14|
|M. Evans, SG||45||2-11||1-2||7||1||5||5|
|S. Parker, PG||43||8-14||6-10||4||3||3||24|
|A. Bynum, C||39||4-7||2-4||6||1||4||10|
|K. Brown, C||21||1-5||0-0||3||1||3||2|
|S. Williams, PG||15||2-4||0-0||0||0||1||4|
|A. McKie, SG||11||0-2||0-0||1||1||1||0|
|S. Vujacic, PG||8||0-1||0-0||1||2||1||0|
|R. Turiaf, PF||6||3-4||2-3||3||0||0||8|
|L. Odom, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Mihm, C||Did Not Play|
|V. Radmanovic, PF||Did Not Play|
|L. Walton, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Farmar, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Davis, SG||56||10-23||12-12||10||8||4||33|
|K. Garnett, PF||51||9-20||8-9||17||4||2||26|
|M. Blount, C||48||6-13||3-4||6||1||4||18|
|M. Jaric, PG||36||5-8||1-2||3||5||6||12|
|T. Hudson, PG||23||2-7||0-0||3||2||0||4|
|R. Foye, PG||25||5-10||0-0||3||5||4||10|
|R. McCants, SG||22||2-4||1-2||2||0||2||5|
|C. Smith, PF||17||2-10||3-3||11||1||2||7|
|M. James, PG||12||1-4||0-0||3||3||2||2|
|M. Madsen, C||Did Not Play|
|B. Wright, SG||Did Not Play|
|E. Griffin, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Hassell, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Reed, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|