Hoops for Troops

Game #8 | November 11, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA

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LOS ANGELES – In a game full of runs, stops, starts, 13 lead changes, 11 ties and a 51-foot shot from beyond half court, it was a last-second defensive stand that helped the Clippers finally take care of the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night at Staples Center.

The road-weary Wolves got three chances to tie the game in the final 6.9 seconds before the Clippers could exhale with a 109-107 victory, extending their undefeated streak at home to three games this season and seven in a row dating back to 2012-13.

DeAndre Jordan forced Kevin Martin, who had a game-high 30 points, into a tough step-back jumper and Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love both missed potential game-tying put backs before time expired.

“We’ll obviously take the win,” Blake Griffin said, “but we were fortunate for them to miss two put backs at the end.”

Griffin, who had a team-high 25 points with 10 rebounds and five assists, converted a pair of late free throws but missed a running layup as he was falling out of bounds that would have likely sealed the game with 7.9 seconds left.

But Love rebounded the miss and after a 20-second timeout Minnesota (5-3) had a chance to win or take the lead. After Martin’s shot caromed long off the rim, Pekovic and Love grabbed two of Minnesota’s 16 offensive rebounds but failed to keep the game alive.

“We’re almost there [defensively],” Chris Paul said. “A lot of times tonight we were in the right spots. But I think we’ve still got to get better rebounding and that’s collectively. We can’t rely on Blake and D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) to get all the rebounds. We’ve got to get in there and collectively rebound.”

Paul had 21 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and four steals, while Jordan scored 14 points with 11 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 18 points and a season-high six assists off the bench.

It was Crawford’s shot in the last moment of the third quarter that perhaps turned the course of the game. He heaved the ball from two steps behind the half-court line as the buzzer sounded to send the Clippers into the fourth with a five-point advantage.

“I think with plays like that, a lot of guys don’t want to shoot because it will ruin their percentage,” Crawford said of the shot to end the third. “I tried to go for it. I think plays like that can uplift the crowd and can hopefully lift the team up to get a win.”

In many ways it did. The Clippers had trouble throughout the night combating a pesky Timberwolves team that despite playing a night earlier would not go away. Much like they did two nights ago in Houston, the defense sparked a lengthy run to extend the lead to double-digits.

On Monday it was a 12-0 spurt, which included eight points by Crawford that made it 98-87. But the defense did not sustain it and when Corey Brewer broke away with 1:39 left a basket could have cut the Clippers’ lead to two. But Paul ran Brewer down and violently ripped the ball away. He drew a foul two seconds later and converted a pair of free throws. Griffin made two more two possessions later and the Clippers would survive.

In no way was the game ideal, but there were plenty of signs that the Clippers are making progress and as Paul has said on numerous occasions it helps to go through that learning process while also winning games.

The defense held Minnesota to 41.7 percent, a season-low for a Clippers’ opponent. Bu they also gave up 107 points. As good as the defense was for nearly five minutes in the fourth to help build an 11-point cushion it was nearly that bad as the Wolves came back.

Head coach Doc Rivers addressed the way his team has played defensively over their last two nights.

“The [shooting] percentage is important,” Rivers said. “It tells you that you’re doing a lot of things right. And that’s two games in a row now, so it’s starting to trend our way.”

The Clippers also received a boost from the return of Matt Barnes, who missed the past three games with a right thigh contusion. Barnes had nine points, eight rebounds and three steals in 22:29. He helped the reserves run off 21 consecutive points in the second quarter, most of them coming without a single starter on the floor. It was the first extended run the five-man bench unit has received in more than week since Barnes was sidelined.

“I kept asking him how he felt and kept saying, ‘Great,’” Rivers said of Barnes. “He was fantastic.”

The bench outscored Minnesota’s 38-17.


The Clippers scored 59 points in the first half. They have had 59 points or more in the opening 24 minutes of all three home games so far this season… Ryan Hollins had a season-high seven points off the Clippers bench… Paul has a double-double in each of the team’s first eight games, becoming the first player to do so with points and assists since John Stockton in the 1991-92 season… Jordan, Paul and Griffin had double-doubles in the same game for the second time this season… Love finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists… The Clippers won despite shooting just 4-for-16 from 3-point range. It is the first time they’ve done so since Feb. 28, 2013… They had 30 assists on 44 made field goals…




Clippers forward Blake Griffin on Clippers’ defense throughout the game:

“Both halves we were good in some areas. For the most part we did a pretty good job and dug in when we needed stops. Down the stretch is when we need to put teams away, but to their credit they hit tough shots and made plays. We had a few lapses, but they played well.” 




Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on the bench developing:

“I think we’re getting a little more comfortable. Hopefully, the rest of this month we’ll get better and better. We’re better now than we were at the start of the season.”



Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on playing well at home:

“It’s huge. It builds us confidence. This is what we’re trying to make this for us. It’s our home-court advantage. The more we keep winning games here, the better the confidence and it sends [a message] that you don’t come in here.”

Clippers guard Darren Collison on the return of Matt Barnes, who missed three games with a  right thigh contusion:
“I thought Matt Barnes was terrific today. He’s always been that defensive player that you can count on. I thought he did a solid job on Kevin Martin. For his first game back, I think he did a good job.”


Timberwolves forward Kevin Love on the play of Jamal Crawford:

“He’s one of the best bench players that has been in the league for a long time. He hit a lot of shots. It seemed like he was hitting shots the whole game. Same thing with Chris Paul. Just efficient, both of those guys.”




By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen

It’s good to be home.

The Clippers road trip didn’t go as planned at 1-2, but their best performance was saved for last, as their 107-94 win over the Houston Rockets salvaged their first cross-country road trip of the season.

“It’s huge,” DeAndre Jordan said after the victory over the Rockets. “We didn’t want to lose all these games on the road trip.”

On Monday the Clippers (4-3) face off with the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2). Head Coach Rick Adelman’s team defeated the Lakers 113-90 a night earlier. They split their only other back-to-back of the season.

Coming back to California and Staples Center should help the Clippers. In the first seven games of the season, Chris Paul and company have played only two home games, winning both against the Golden State Warriors and Rockets respectively.


Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Love

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The debate over the top NBA power forward usually consists of Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. In NBA.com’s annual survey of General Managers, 27.6 percent named Love the game’s best power forward, while 6.9 percent cited Griffin.

The debate will likely continue after the two go head-to-head on Monday. Through seven games, Griffin has averaged 21.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. He’s also taken on the defensive challenge of guarding LeBron James and Dwight Howard in consecutive games. Meanwhile, Love is off to an unprecedented start, averaging 27.0 points and 14.4 rebounds. He’s already had three games of 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and four-plus assists. No other player in the league has done so.

Griffin and Love get the job done in different ways. Griffin made his name by showcasing world-class athleticism, but his game has evolved into one of the better all-around players in the league. On the other hand, Love certainly plays more below the rim. He can stretch the floor to beyond the 3-point line with a career average of 35.0 percent and uses his strong lower body to position himself beneath the glass.

Due to various injuries to Love over the last couple of seasons the two have only met head-to-head eight times in their career, splitting the series at four wins apiece. Griffin has averaged 25.1 points (54.1 percent shooting), 9.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists compared to Love, who has gone for 20.6 points (44.6 percent shooting), 12.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists.


1. Defense improving. The Clippers are far from where they want to be on defense. However, allowing a mere 39 points to the Houston Rockets in the second half provides some encouraging progress.

“The defense won the game for us,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said.

Prior to the 107-94 win over the Rockets, the Clippers best defensive game in terms of points allowed was against the Orlando Magic, surrendering 98 points.

The task doesn’t get easier with the Timberwolves, who scored 113 points against the Lakers. They are third in the NBA in points per game at 106.1.

2. Body language. Whether the Clippers are winning or losing, Rivers wants the team to stay positive and hold their head high.

“I kept telling them to hang in there,” Rivers said. “We were all pouting and our body language was awful.”

Griffin agreed with Rivers and said he aims to improve maintaining an even keel.  

“I know I have a have a bad habit when things aren’t going right to hang your head a little bit,” Griffin said. “I don’t think anybody does it any a way that they are trying to deflect onto their teammates. It’s just kind of a disappointing thing. We all want to play well. We all want to execute. But we got to know we are never out of a game.”

3. First-quarter scoring. Don’t arrive late fans because you could miss a plethora of baskets from both teams. The Timberwolves are scoring the most first quarter points in the NBA, averaging 34.0, including 38 or more in three of their seven games. The Clippers aren’t far behind at third, averaging 29.3 points per game in the first. J.J. Redick leads the NBA in first-quarter scoring at 9.1 points per game.


The Clippers have won their last six home games since Apr. 3, 2013… Love owns 95 career 20-plus, 10-rebound game since 2010-11, one more than Griffin and Dwight Howard… Paul has made 37 consecutive free throws, 21 shy of matching Jamal Crawford’s franchise record…The Clippers and Timberwolves are both inside the top five for games with 10-plus steals since 2012-2013, ranking first and fifth respectively…The Clippers swept the season series (4-0) over the Timberwolves last season…Ricky Rubio recorded his second career triple-double on Sunday…Former Clippers forward Ronny Turiaf is out with a fractured elbow…Matt Barnes (right thigh contusion) is questionable…


Jamal Crawford: “It’s a process. We got half a new team and a whole new coaching staff. We understand it’s a process. We just have to weather the storm and [keep] getting better each day. Just keep building. Ultimately, I said before the season ‘We aren’t going to be judged on what we do in the season. We are a team that’s going to be judged on the playoffs.’”



COMING: Corey Brewer (Rockets); Gorgui Dieng (Louisville); Robbie Hummel (Blusens Monbus--Spain); Kevin Martin (Thunder); Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA); A.J. Price (Wizards); Ronny Turiaf (Clippers)

GOING: Mickael Gelabale (Free Agent); Andrei Kirilenko (Nets); Malcolm Lee (Free agent); Brandon Roy (Retired); Greg Stiemsma (Pelicans)


  • Clippers Leaders:
    Pts: Redick/Griffin 22
    Ast: Paul 13
    Reb: Jordan 18

    Last Time Out





    Timberwolves Leaders:
    Pts: Martin 27
    Reb: Love 13
    Ast: Rubio 14