MINNEAPOLIS, March 15 (UPI) -- Shaquille O'Neal had five blocks and anchored a strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter Friday night as the Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 106-99 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves that snapped a two-game slide.
The three-time defending champion Lakers have had an erratic season. In the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff bracket, they began a four-game trip with dispiriting losses at Chicago and Detroit.
"We just wanted to get back on track," O'Neal said. "Our last two efforts were not good enough. We needed to get a win."
Facing a team that had won 17 of its last 18 home games, the Lakers rediscovered their winning ways in unfamiliar fashion.
O'Neal, whose nagging injuries have made him somewhat of a defensive liability, controlled the interior in the final period, when Minnesota made just six of 23 shots.
"Shaq was big for us," said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. "Kobe isn't feeling well, but gave us a good effort, and we made big plays down the stretch."
"I fought chills the whole game," Bryant said. "I personally wanted to save my energy for the fourth quarter, when we needed it most."
The Lakers had 11 blocks and 12 steals. Bryant, Fisher, and Robert Horry each had three steals, and Horry blocked three shots.
"We had too many careless turnovers," said Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett. "They're just too good to have too many turnovers against. Twelve steals for them is a lot."
"You're not going to win very many games when you turn it over as much as we did," said Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders.
Garnett had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading 57th double-double, but he committed five of his team's 15 turnovers, and had just one basket in the final period.