GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Clippers | March 31, 2014
Final: That's the ballgame, folks. The Wolves' bench did some heavy lifting in the fourth as Barea, Budinger, Muhammad, Hummel and Dieng helped take a once-24 point deficit down to as few as eight with a minute to play. It was too much to overcome as the Wolves lost 114-104, but what a comeback for a Wolves team that really had no answers in the third quarter. Much of that is attributed to Shabazz Muhammad, who scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 12 minutes. Hummel had 11 points, Budinger had 12 and Dieng had 14. The Clippers got 28 points from Darren Collison, 22 more from Chris Paul and 19 from Matt Barnes. More to come on Timberwolves so stay tuned. LAC 114, MIN 104
Q4 9:00: Shabazz Muhammad entered here to start the fourth and quickly made his impact. He's 3-of-4 with seven points in three minutes of work. He's also got a rebound and got to the line on an and 1. He's the offensive spark the Wolves were looking for in that third quarter. Another bench player who is producing tonight on the offensive end is Dante Cunningham who has eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. LAC 98, MIN 75
End Q3: That escalated quickly. The Clippers are in control as we head into the fourth as they broke loose for a huge third quarter that included shooting 15-for-25 from the field and 4-of-10 from 3-point range. The Wolves had no answer as they shot 7-of-25. The end result is a 22-point lead. Collison has 22 for the Clippers, including 16 in the third alone. Paul has 16 points, eight assists and six boards. Love has 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for Minnesota. LAC 88, MIN 66
Q3 3:37: Make that a 22-5 run for the Clippers, who have taken complete control of this game late in the third. The Wolves have straight up gone cold. And they're having trouble stopping the Clippers. Bad combination. LAC 79, MIN 64
Q3 5:58: The Wolves just gave up a 13-3 run to the Clippers capped by a Jared Dudley 3-pointer. That puts the Wolves down eight midway through the third as we have a stoppage in play. Love has his double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and he also has four assists. Four of the Clippers' five starters are in double figures. LAC 70, MIN 62
Halftime: Lots of minutes spread around tonight for the Wolves. Of the 10 players who have seen action, eight of them have played at least 10 minutes. Love has 16 points and nine boards and is 2-of-4 from 3-point range, while K-Mart has 12. Brewer has seven, and both Barea and Cunningham have four off the bench. The Wolves are shooting 41 percent from the field. Meanwhile, The Clippers have 14 from Chris Paul and 12 from Matt Barnes. Jordan has five points and 13 rebounds. Both teams have combined to shoot 14-of-27 from 3-point range. Now, if you'll excuse us, Young MC is about to perform Bust a Move at halftime. LAC 54, MIN 51
Q2 1:25: The Wolves are typically pretty good at getting to the line and drawing fouls. But tonight they've got to the line just four times, going 3-of-4 from the stripe. The Clippers are 13-of-18 by comparison, mostly marred by DeAndre Jordan's 3-of-8 shooting from the line. L.A. actually went much of this quarter with just two made field goals. They've since hit three more, but the Wolves are trailing by two despite the Clippers' lack of made shots here in the second. LAC 47, MIN 45
Q2 5:59: First, the bad news. Pek will miss the rest of the game due to a sore right ankle. He played seven minutes tonight and finished with zero points and one board on 0-of-3 shooting. Love and K-Mart each have 10, though, and the Wolves lead by one here as we near halftime. MIN 36, LAC 35
End Q1: The Wolves are down four heading into the second but really kind of stayed afloat as both teams struggled from the field. Minnesota is 8-of-25 from the field, while the Clippers are 9-of-25 tonight. However, both teams are shooting well from 3. The Clippers are 5-of-11 and the Wolves are 3-of-6. Love has 10 points and nine boards, so he's a rebound shy of another double-double. DeAndre Jordan has just one point but has 12 boards already. LAC 26, MIN 22
Q1 5:07: The Wolves are hanging tough with the Clippers despite L.A.'s quick start from behind the arc. The Clippers are shooting 4-of-8 from 3 in the first seven minutes, including a pair from Matt Barnes and two more from Chris Paul. They have eight and six points, respectively. Love has four points and five boards early, and Corey Brewer has seven poitns to lead the Wolves. Minnesota is shooting 5-of-16 from the field to start this one off. LAC 18, MIN 13
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
Clippers: PG-Chris Paul, SG-Darren Collison, SF-Matt Barnes, PF-Jared Dudley, C-DeAndre Jordan
PREGAME 6:30 PM: The Clippers will be without shooting guard Jamal Crawford tonight, which is a big blow to their back court as they are already without J.J. Redick. Plus Crawford gives them length and is a very solid scorer from all areas of the court, so being without him tonight (calf injury) does impact L.A. as they take on the Wolves.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said what it does do, though, is force Chris Paul to take control for more of the game. And as we all know, that's not a bad thing.
"[Crawford] is huge fro them, I mean he's one of the best sixth men in the league," Adelman said. "He's been that way for them since he's been there. He's a talented player who can come in and get points in a hurry. So I think if he's out fo the game it certainly hurts them, but it probably just means Chris is going to have the ball in his hands a lot more."
Speaking of Paul, the Clippers have gone with both Paul and point guard Darren Collison side-by-side a bit recently, and they've had good success with the two of them playing side-by-side. You do get benefits from two point guards in the game, namely multiple ball handlers that can create for others. And when one of them is Chris Paul, you know he'll be able to do the facilitating as well as the scoring if need be. Rivers said one thing most teams have not done with the two smaller guards on the floor at the same time is post them up--the exception might have been Golden State.
We'll see if the Wolves try to take advantage of a size mismatch tonight or if they'll match Collison/Paul with Barea/Rubio in the back court. Adelman said that is an opportunity to go small against them.
For Rivers, it's a gamble that's been paying off.
"We create problems on the other end with our speed factor, adn so we tried to figure out, you know, if we feel like it's more of an advantage to keep them out there," Rivers said. "Most teams don't like to change the way they play to take advantage of a smaller guard."
If the Wolves did want to try to create a mis-match in the back court, an interesting proposition would be to put someone like Shabazz Muhammad matched up against a smaller guard. He'd be more naturally able to post up a back court defender than others on the Wolves' squad.
Also on the injury front, Blake Griffin is still a gametime decision according to Rivers. We're not sure at this point if he'll be available to go or not.
PREGAME 1:30 PM: Welcome back to Target Center, folks, as we get set for the Timberwolves' matchup tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. This is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season, with L.A. coming out of the first three victorious. But the statistics are a little misleading. Minnesota came back from double-digit deficits twice in their first meeting at Staples Center and had a chance to tie at the buzzer on Nov. 11. The Wolves missed two tip-ins as time expired. On Nov. 20, they lost by four at home, and on Dec. 22 the Wolves led by four with 20 seconds left before the Clippers made an improbable comeback and forced overtime. Minnesota lost all three games by a combined 10 points.
Fast forward to tonight, and the Wolves are on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The Clippers have a shot at the No. 2 seed in the West. This game has a lot of meaning for L.A., and it's a chance for the Wolves to spoil a fellow Western Conference team's ambitions. That caught Clippers coach Doc Rivers' attention.
"Especially now. They're going to be loose and free," Rivers said. "We're playing for stuff. They're a good team. They've had a lot of injuries, and a lot of stuff that happened this year. But they always concern us."
The Clippers are 15-2 since Feb. 23. They've been in the top four in the West for the duration of the season, but they've especially begun clicking late. L.A. opened up the year by welcoming Rivers on board after he was shipped west in a deal with Boston. That immediately gave the Clippers a coach with an NBA title and widely considered one of the most well-respected coaches in the league. It took a little time for the Clippers to mesh together given the new leadership and philosophy, and they did (and still are) battle injuries along the way. But as we head into April, the Clippers are playing their best ball of the season. It's perfect timing for the team and its coach to be playing at this level.
"I think we're playing some of our best basketball at this time," Blake Griffin said. "Still you know, we haven't been healthy. We haven't really had our full starting lineup, so that hurts, but at the same time it's encouraging how we're playing and that everybody seems to be completely bought in and we're hitting on all cylinders."
Speaking of Griffin, as Kyle Ratke wrote earlier today, he's a gametime decision due to back spasms. He was in uniform during shootaround this morning and did say he would test it out pregame tonight. Rivers said he thinks it's 50-50 whether or not Griffin will play against the Wolves tonight.
Stay tuned for pregame notes and more as we get closer to tonight's game. Also keep in mind that tonight the first 2,500 fans who come through the doors will receive a Wolves water bottle.
PS: If the Twins game has a weather delay or goes long (they play on Fox Sports North at 3:10 today), the Wolves' pregame show and game will begin tonight on Fox Sports North Plus and move over to the main station once Twins coverage is over.
PSS: Tonight, Young MC will be performing during halftime. It's a great opportunity to see a hip-hop legend, who sang "Bust a Move," come through town and perform. Don't Miss A Moment.
· The Wolves trail the series 48-49, but are 29-19 at home. The Clippers have won the last eight meeting between the two teams, including three this season by a total of 10 points.
· The Wolves have tallied 30+ points in the first quarter a league-leading 33 times; including 6 of the last nine games. Minnesota is 24-9 when scoring 30+ in the first quarter, 13-3 at home.
· Kevin Love is averaging 27.2 points, 15.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his last five games against the Clippers.
· Love needs one more made free throw to pass Tom Gugliotta (464, 1996-97) and take sole possession as the team's single-season record holder in that category. Love (6,779 points) passed Wally Szczerbiak (6,777) Sunday in Brooklyn for 3rd place on the Wolves' all-time scoring list. Sam Mitchell is in 2nd with 7,161 points.
· Love currently leads the NBA in double-doubles (57), 20/10 games (45), 30/10 games (19) and 20/10/5 games (23). He ranks 4th in the league in scoring (26.1 ppg), 3rd in rebounding (12.6 rpg) and 3rd in free throws made (464). Love is also averaging a career-high 4.3 assists -- the last players to average 26+ points, 12+ rebounds and 4+ assists over a full season were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo in 1975-76.
· Ricky Rubio ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals (2.46 spg) and 4th in assists (8.6 apg). He has recorded 3+ steals in 33 games this season, the most such games in a season by a Wolves player. With 177 steals this year, Rubio has recorded the best single-season total in club history (previously Tyrone Corbin 175, 1989-90). He needs 24 more assists to pass Stephon Marbury (1,393) for 3rd on the Wolves' all-time assists list.
· Gorgui Dieng is averaging 11.9 points, on 62.1% (36-for-56) shooting, and 13.0 rebounds in the last eight games, including five double-doubles.
· Corey Brewer is averaging 15.8 points on 53.3% shooting over the last five games after averaging 7.4 ppg and 36.6% shooting in the previous five games. He ranks 13th in the NBA with 1.39 steals per game.
· With a 52-22 record, Los Angeles is 3rd in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind Oklahoma City and 2.0 games ahead of Houston. The Clippers are 21-17 on the road, 13-10 against the West. Los Angeles has won its last two games and 15 of its last 17 games.
· The Clippers rank 1st in scoring with 107.5 ppg and 2nd in point differential at +7.1 ppg. They are 3rd in assists (24.56 apg), 4th in field goal percentage (47.5%) and 5th in steals 8.62 spg).
· Chris Paul is averaging 20.4 points, 11.4 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 steals in his last five games against the Wolves. He ranks 1st in the NBA this season in assists (10.9 apg) and steals (2.55 spg).
· DeAndre Jordan leads the NBA in rebounding with 13.7 rpg and field goal percentage at 66.9%. He also ranks 3rd in blocked shots with 2.43 bpg. He is averaging 18.0 points, on 73.7% (14-for-19) shooting, and 13.5 rebounds over the last two games.