Dunleavy Gets 500th Win as Kaman Shines
L.A. Clippers 95, Minnesota 87
LOS ANGELES, March 13 (Ticker) -- With their stalwart slowed, the Los Angeles Clippers got a big boost again from Chris Kaman.
Kaman scored 24 points and had career highs of 23 rebounds and four steals as Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy earned his 500th career victory with a 95-87 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
A big reason for the improvement has been Elton Brand, who was limited to 14 points -- nearly 12 below his average -- on Monday. Kaman was the one to pick up the slack.
"It wasn't the best offensive night," Kaman said. "We played well and won the game by finishing the fourth quarter. We got the 'W', which was the most important thing."
Coming off a 22-point, three-block effort in Saturday's win over Milwaukee, Kaman was 7-of-15 from the floor and made 10-of-12 free throws. Brand, who averages 7.6 foul shots, did not take one for just the second time this season.
Kaman's dunk pulled the Clippers into a 77-77 tie with 7:20 remaining and Vladimir Radmanovic buried a 3-pointer moments later to hand the hosts their first lead since late in the first quarter.
The Timberwolves reclaimed the lead before Kaman found Corey Maggette on a cut to the hoop for a three-point play and an 83-81 lead with 3:47 to go. Marko Jaric responded with a jumper and Trenton Hassell answered two free throws by Kaman with an 18-footer to forge the last tie at 85-85 with less than three minutes left.
Kaman then got free underneath for a go-ahead layup and Sam Cassell buried a pull-up jumper to give Los Angeles an 89-85 lead with two minutes remaining. After Jaric split a pair of free throws, Brand buried a baseline jumper and Quinton Ross had a steal and dunk in the final minute to help seal it.
Kaman, who had three blocked shots for the second straight game, was instrumental in helping the Clippers hold the visitors to just 33 second-half points. The Timberwolves had 31 points in the second quarter alone to claim a 54-48 lead.
"Defensively, it was my best game and my best all-around game," Kaman said. "With the steals, the blocks and the rebounds, things went my way, especially in the second half."
Minnesota's point guard for the past two seasons, Cassell had 17 points and five assists. Maggette chipped in 15 points for the Clippers, who will carry a four-game winning streak into Wednesday's visit to Pacific Division-leading Phoenix.
The Suns own a six-game lead in the division.
Ricky Davis led the Timberwolves with 20 points. Four others reached double figures, including leading scorer Kevin Garnett, who was held without a field goal for the final 22 minutes and finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Davis summed up his team's fifth straight loss.
"I don't think we are running out anymore," Davis said. "In the second half, we're running more plays instead of just playing freely. In the first half, guys were just out there playing, running up and down the court. I think that is what we need to continue."
Dunleavy was pleased to share his 500th career win with this team.
"Even more important for us is the fact that we are making big advances," said Dunleavy, who has 514 career losses. "Five hundred wins says I have been around a long time. It is a great win and a great team effort."
Since a five-game losing streak in February that had some thinking these were the same old Clippers, Dunleavy's team has gone 7-2.
"For the most part we have beaten the teams we are supposed to beat," Dunleavy said. "Our defense has gotten tighter and tighter and we are moving towards the playoffs with momentum."
One of the players that has blossomed during the Clippers' resurgence, Kaman earned his coach's praise.
"Kaman was terrific," Dunleavy said. "When he had that 22 points and 22 rebounds against Charlotte (on Dec. 23) they didn't have a whole lot of bigs that night. This game he had two huge guys in 7-footers Mark Blount and Garnett. Chris created his own space and was relentless in going after rebounds and loose balls."
Minnesota led by as many as 11 points in the first half and took its last lead at 81-80 on Jaric's layup with 4:41 to go. It missed its last five shots of the game as Los Angeles ended on a 15-6 run.