It wasn’t easy, nor was it particularly pretty, but the Los Angeles Clippers will take a win when they can get one. And the Minnesota Timberwolves gave them one Monday night.
The Clips improved to 5-3 on the season with a 109-107 victory over the Wolves who fell to 5-3, as well. L.A. appeared to have the game wrapped-up once Lawler’s Law was invoked after a Chris Paul jumper with just over five minutes to play gave the Clippers a 100-89 lead.
However, a few DeAndre Jordan missed free throws and an array of buckets from Minnesota’s pair of Kevins (Martin and Love) immediately helped whittle the Clipper lead down to 101-99 less than two minutes later.
The teams went back-and-forth with baskets until Love rebounded a Blake Griffin miss with just over six seconds to go and the Clippers still leading by two. Following a timeout, Martin missed a contested jumper, Nikola Pekovic missed a follow-up one-hander in the paint and Love left short what appeared to be an easy tap-in from point-blank range that would’ve sent the game into overtime as the final buzzer sounded.
A flukey play to cap-off the third actually proved quite crucial to the outcome of this one, as Jamal Crawford hit a 50-foot three-pointer from beyond half-court as time expired to give the Clippers a five-point lead heading into the final frame. Crawford was a major offensive spark that the Clippers sorely needed when they hit the skids in the third, and finished with 18 points to lead the reserves. Matt Barnes also returned from a weeklong absence to score 9 points and grab 8 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Griffin was one of three Clippers to finish with a double-double, as he led L.A. with 25 points on 11-22 shooting from the floor. Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists, but also had a rather uncharacteristic six turnovers as he dealt with the pesky Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer all night long.
Martin led the Wolves with 30, marking the seventh time in eight games this season in which he’s topped the 20-point mark. Love chimed-in with 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists, and Pekovic had 25 points and 10 boards.
L.A. outshot Minnesota by a wide margin (55 percent to 41 percent), but three-balls are what helped keep Minny close, as they nearly tripled the Clippers’ total from beyond-the-arc (11 to L.A.’s 4). They also created tons of second-chance opportunities for themselves, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds compared to just 6 for the Clippers. They finished with a whopping 16 more shot attempts from the field, but actually converted on 4 fewer than the Clippers.
The Clippers also built themselves a nice 11-point lead late in the second period, only to see the Timberwolves close the half on a 16-6 run that brought them back to within a point heading into the locker room.
L.A. still allowed 107 points, which will get you beaten on most nights, but the defense actually looked much improved over where it’s been for much of the season to this point. The 41 percent shooting from the field is a testament to both L.A.’s defense and the Wolves’ flat-out struggles. But if you’re going to allow that many offensive boards and second-chance looks, it tends to cancel out the low shooting percentage. On one possession early in the fourth quarter, Minnesota rebounded their own misses three consecutive times until J.J. Barea drilled a three from the wing on the Wolves’ fourth attempt of the possession. Unacceptable for the Clippers, but they were able to get away with it this time around.
The Clips will face yet another big test on Wednesday night when the 5-1 Oklahoma City Thunder visit Staples Center.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.