Practice Report | Wolves Ready To Battle Healthy Clippers
Web Editorial Associate
The Minnesota Timberwolves look to get back on track when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Midway through the NBA season, the Clippers hit a bump in the road, losing two of their best players in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to injuries. But in the last two weeks, they’ve gotten back to full strength.
“They’ve dealt with a lot of injuries this year with Blake being out and Chris being out, but when they have their full complement of players, they are one of the best teams in the league and we know that,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice Tuesday. “We will be tested in a lot of ways. . . They are a very deep team.”
Since his return on Jan. 24, Griffin is averaging 23.5 points, eight rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Since Paul returned on Feb. 24, he’s averaged 18.2 points, 7.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
“Chris is a big part of that team. He brings chemistry, tempo and leadership to that team and they are playing really well,” Ricky Rubio said. “It’s that time of the year where you want to play your best basketball and get ready for the playoffs and we are trying to make it. We just have to keep fighting.”
Towns Has Owned The Paint
Although he is certainly capable of shooting from beyond the arc, shooting a career-best 34.5 percent from three this season, Karl-Anthony Towns has owned the paint this season.
Towns has tallied 852 points in the paint this season, which leads the NBA. The second-year big man also leads the league in second-chance points with 304.
“The way he gets double-teamed, the importance of catching the ball as close to the basket as you can before the double team can get there,” Thibodeau said. “That’s where I think he has really grown.”
Towns, who is averaging 24 points per game (13th in the NBA), has also recorded 17 straight 20-plus point games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
“It’s whatever the defense gives me. Just following our offensive gameplan and our offensive strategy and trying to run it to the best of my ability,” Towns said. “I’m just trying to find ways to help my teammates in every single aspect.”
Adreian Payne Update
Thibodeau said that Adreian Payne (illness) has been cleared and returned to practice Tuesday afternoon.
“Adreian has been cleared now, so he went through practice. Obviously he’s got a long way to go conditioning wise, but it’s good to have him back.”
The Wolves and Clippers are set to tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Target Center. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.