Clippers Handle Wolves, 90-77
Wolves Editorial Associate
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The Timberwolves keep saying their injury situation can’t get any worse, but somehow, it did on Thursday night.
Key cogs Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved both left the court with injuries in the second half as the Wolves couldn’t keep up with the Los Angeles Clippers, losing 90-77.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, just more and more guys going down,” Luke Ridnour said. “It’s unfortunate, but we need to keep grinding it out and making things happen.”
Wolves vs Clippers
Los Angeles ran its first half lead to as much as 12 before the Wolves trimmed it to four at the end of the second quarter. The Clippers bullied down low—they had already doubled (32-16) Minnesota’s points in the paint by halftime—but the Wolves were still within reach at the halfway point.
“I thought to start off the game we came out kind of slow, sluggish and really weren't into it,” interim coach Terry Porter said. “As the half went on, we really got into it, had better energy and made a lot of good plays.”
Despite trailing for the entire third quarter, the Wolves were not far behind. They kept the deficit below 10 at all times and had forced 17 Los Angeles turnovers going into the fourth quarter. But the Clippers blew the lead open in the final frame, going up by as much as 15 and locking up their third straight win.
Minnesota gave a good defensive effort, holding Los Angeles more than 10 points below its season average. But the Clippers’ experience and deep bench ended up drowning out the weary Wolves.
“They’re deep,” Derrick Williams said. “Some of their bench players can start on a lot of teams in the NBA. Grant Hill, Lamar [Odom], Matt Barnes, all those guys can play on a lot of different teams. Chris Paul was out tonight, too.”
By the time Pekovic and Shved left the game, the Wolves were clearly outnumbered. That left just eight healthy players on the Wolves bench.
“We don't have the depth and we don't have the size,” Porter said. “Even when they go to the second unit that they have Grant Hill and Matt Barnes. They have a strong defender and they got one of the best sixth men in the league in Jamal Crawford.”
Crawford led the assault against the Wolves with 22 points, and teammate Blake Griffin had 20. Lamar Odom added 12 rebounds and six assists, leading in both categories.
Ridnour had 21 points for Minnesota, shooting 3-for-6 from the perimeter. Andrei Kirilenko logged 15 points, five rebounds and four steals. J.J. Barea, last game’s leader, struggled from the field as he shot just 2-for-10.
Leader of the Pack: Luke Ridnour
Ridnour was steady for Minnesota, shooting 9-for-17 and collecting 21 points. He also dished out five assists, spending time at both point guard and shooting guard.
“Just try to run the floor, space the floor, hit some shots,” Ridnour said of his game Thursday night. “We have to get out and get easy transition buckets right now. We aren’t scoring easily. I’m just going to keep running and looking for my shot.”
Highlight of the Night
With just 15 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wolves were mounting a comeback attempt. Luke Ridnour crossed over at the top of the key, lobbing a pass up to Derrick Williams who jumped from the left block and finished with two hands. The dunk pulled Minnesota within three points, 66-63, the closest they would get for the rest of the contest.
“It’s a little wild. When I saw Pek go down, and then Alexey walk off the court, that left us I think with seven. It’s tough out there when you’ve got a team like the Clippers that are 15 deep. Some of their guys can’t even dress up, that’s how deep they are. We’ve got coaches practicing with us. I think that’s why [assistant coach Bill] Bayno had the ice on his back. It is what it is, but we need to come ready.” — Derrick Williams on the Wolves’ injury situation.
The Wolves will host Houston on Saturday night before taking a quick road trip down to Atlanta on Monday. They then return to Target Center where they will host Brooklyn on Wednesday.