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Lakers Advance to NBA Finals - 2004-06-01

The Los Angeles Lakers have earned their fourth trip in five years to the National Basketball Association championship after eliminating the Minnesota Timberwolves from the Western Conference finals.

Minnesota was not able to build on the narrow one point lead it took into the fourth quarter, as the Lakers defeated the T-Wolves 96-90 to clinch the best-of-seven series four-games-to-two Monday.

Back-up guard Kareem Rush scored six shots from three-point range, including two key baskets down the stretch. Lakers superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant led the team in scoring. Shaq had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Kobe netted 20 points in the tightly officiated game.

Minnesota's Latrell Spreewell led the Timberwolves with 27 points, and NBA Most Valuable Player, Kevin Garnett, added 22, but the team's effort was not enough to overcome the absence of injured All-Star guard Sam Cassell.

The Lakers will take on the winner of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final series between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. Detroit leads three-games-to-two, and can advance Tuesday with a win at home.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.