Five Takeaways: Clippers Struggle, Lose In Minnesota
Los Angeles – The Clippers (38-26) scored the first basket of the game, but never lead again, losing to the Timberwolves (26-37) powered by Karl-Anthony Towns’ 29 points and 14 rebounds, snapping a nine game Clipper winning streak in Target Center.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers 107-91 loss.
1) Slow Starts –
In each of the Clippers’ previous four games, they have trailed their opponents at halftime. Against the Timberwolves the cold streak continued. After the Clippers scored the first bucket, Minnesota raced out to a 15-to-nothing run and kept their foot on the gas pedal, scoring 58 points through two quarters. On the fastbreak, the Timberwolves lapped the Clippers, racking up 18 points to the Clippers’ four, and dominated the paint, doubling the Clippers 38-16. The lead grew to 15 points, but the Clippers scored 11 straight points to end the half and trim the lead to three following a half court heave by Chris Paul to beat the buzzer.
Unlike the last two games, the Clippers could not find any second half magic. After an early third quarter push, the Timberwolves pulled away courtesy of a 20-9 run, never allowing the Clippers back in the game.
2) Karl-Anthony Towns is very good –
With their second victory over the Clippers the season, the Timberwolves take the season series thanks in large part to their burgeoning star Karl-Anthony Towns. The Clippers rank 21st in the NBA in rebounding, and Karl-Anthony Towns exposed the team’s weakness,relentlessly attacking the glass while also drawing Jordan out of the paint, creating gaps for the Timberwolves to grab 16 offensive rebounds. The young center made his influence known down low, leading the Timberwolves to a 62-40 points in the paints advantage. Towns was magnificent, totaling 29 points and 14 rebounds, including scoring his 3,000th career point in only his second season.
3) Blake Griffin scoring streak continues, barely –
In his six NBA seasons, Blake Griffin has scored more than 16 points in every game against Minnesota. From the first possession of the game, Griffin scored on a perfectly executed backdoor cut and seemed well on his way to continuing the trend. By halftime, Blake piled up 13 points on a mixture of free throws, scoring in the paint and hitting a career high 18th three pointer. To start the second half, the Timberwolves adjusted by doubling Griffin, forcing him to be a facilitator, resulting in multiple turnovers. Blake scored his 16th point with six minutes left in the fourth quarter on another three and finished the game with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists.
4) DeAndre Jordan loves playing the Timberwolves
There must be something about facing Minnesota that pushes DeAndre Jordan to excel beyond his usual season performances. In the three games against the Timberwolves, DeAndre Jordan averaged 22 points per game and 15 rebounds. Tonight, he scored a team-high 20 points on nine of 11 shooting, staying hyper-active around the rim, securing five offensive rebounds. Once again, Jordan did not give the Timberwolves fans free frozen yogurt, although on this occasion he never had the chance.
5) J.J. Redick slumping –
A big part of the Clippers’ first quarter struggles can be associated with their slumping shooting guard. J.J. Redick, the team’s second leading first quarter scorer, is shooting an uncharacteristic 34-percent from since the All-Star break. In traditional fashion, the Clippers fed the ball early to Redick, running him through a myriad of screens, trying to get their sharpshooter an easy look, but Redick missed his first four shots. He caught a little rhythm, drilling four out of his next five shots, but ultimately finishing only six of 14.