Wolves @ Clippers Gameday
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Wolves @ Clippers 9:30 PM - Staples Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN AM
*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.
* Chris Kaman (sprained left ankle) - OUT
* Brian Cook (sprained right ankle) - OUT
* Craig Smith (herniated disk in back) - OUT
On Monday December 20, the Clippers earned their third straight victory by topping Minnesota 113-90 at the Staples Center. At the time, Los Angeles only held eight wins but over the next 11 games the new-look Clip Show found the winning stride and improved to 15-25 heading into tonight’s matchup against the Wolves. One of the major reasons for the recent revival is the spectacular play from rookie Blake Griffin. He is not the straw that stirs the Clippers drink; he is more like the gallon tub full of Red Bull that makes LA fly. Griffin’s physical style of play has helped Los Angeles stand up and register wins over Miami and Staples Center big brother, the Los Angeles Lakers. After hosting Minnesota on Wednesday night, the Clippers hit the road to play three of their next four games away from Los Angeles.
Last Time Out
The Blake Show destroyed Indiana for a career-best 47 points in leading his squad to a 114-107 victory on Monday afternoon.
Minnesota let a chance to steal a road win slip through its hands as Portland outscored the Wolves 38-27 in the third quarter. The Blazers defeated Minnesota 113-102 for the third time this year in a Monday evening contest at the Rose Garden.
The Numbers Game
The battle for double-double supremacy will be on full display tonight. Kevin Love and Griffin are showing no signs of relenting on their current 28-game streak of posting double-doubles. The Wolves power forward owns the top spot in the double-double category with the 37 while the Clippers rookie trails with 33.
Wolves frontcourt vs. Clippers frontcourt
All eyes will focus on the Love-Griffin matchup tonight but the overall frontcourt play will determine if Minnesota escapes the road trip with a victory or Los Angeles continues its accent through the Western Conference standings. The Wolves coaching staff preached to the team to be fully aware of back screen and ally-oop attempts from Griffin and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Los Angeles’ bigs attack the rim and search for opportunities deep in the paint, which usually results in free throw attempts or momentum changing dunks. Griffin has become more of a jigsaw puzzle to figure out since the last meeting against the Wolves. The former Oklahoma big man has shown an ability to step out to 10-15 feet and hit the jumper off glass. However, Griffin’s arsenal mostly involves movement off the dribble, a rare combination of speed and strength heading to the rim like a locomotive. Michael Beasley, Love, and Darko Milicic will have to play exceptional on and off ball defense, remaining tight to weak side assignments. Offensively, Minnesota’s frontline is no slouch, recording 64 points in the paint on Monday night against the Blazers.
What to Look For
Most of the chatter around Griffin has overshadowed the impressive and improved play of Eric Gordon. The Clippers shooting guard is their leading scorer at 23.9 points per game. He owns a nice perimeter jumper along with a strong frame to deal with contact inside the lane. Baron Davis is also playing well of late, feeling rejuvenated from Griffin’s spectacular play.
On the opposite side, the Wolves search for a complete game without allowing the opposition to build an insurmountable lead late in the contest. Milicic is fresh off a brilliant 22-point performance as he enjoyed a solid start on Portland’s home floor. At practice yesterday, Beasley said his ankle is a little sore but he seemed to have no issues working through the entire 2-hour session. Beasley was key in the first meeting against Los Angeles with a game-winner over Ryan Gomes at the Target Center.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jonah on Twitter.