April 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) controls the ball against the defense of Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Luke Ridnour (13) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The opening moments provided an ominous sign for the Timberwolves and their fans, as the Clippers converted an easy alley-oop basket on the game’s first possession, immediately followed by a Wolves possession that featured back-to-back blocks by Deandre Jordan. That’s right, Wolves fans…with that, we’re off….
The Clippers jumped out to an 8-0 lead while looking extremely sharp on both ends of the floor. To make matters worse for the visitors, Ricky Rubio picked up two personal fouls in the opening two and a half minutes. Blake Griffin scored 8 of Los Angeles’ first 10 points, and Nikola Pekovic and his ability to get to the charity stripe was the entire Wolves’ offense early, as the team began the tilt shooting just 3 of 17 from the floor.
The Wolves managed to stay within a 26-20 score headed into the second frame, and actually pulled within a possession of the Clippers multiple times in the first portion of the quarter. The officiating turned spotty as the Wolves defense became sloppy, however, and the Clippers were in the bonus at the 7:40 mark of the second period. Even still, the Wolves were down just 40-37 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half before again slipping down the stretch of a quarter and trailing 58-46 at the break.
The third quarter felt similar to the second, as the Wolves pulled within three points a couple of times, only to see the Clippers to end the frame on a 9-0 run and expand their lead to a game-high 88-72 headed the fourth quarter. The home team’s long range shooting picked up while the Wolves offense ground to a halt, and the game turned immediately. After playing out the string in the fourth quarter, the Clippers emerged victorious by the final score of 111-95.
Some quick thoughts….
– Dante Cunningham was a late scratch due to a sore right hamstring, leading to Derrick Williams playing the first 36 minutes of the game before sitting for the entirity of the fourth quarter. He was active but shot poorly, accumulating a final line of 13 points on 3 of 12 from the floor and 6 of 6 from the line to go along with 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 1 block, and just 1 turnover.
– Rubio started the game 0-3 from the floor, reaching a mark of 1-24 over his past three games. He played well overall, save his early foul trouble, finishing with 6 points on 2 of 8 from the floor, 7 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 turnover in another short night – just 23 minutes of court time.
– Alexey Shved played his second consecutive decent game. He is still shooting horribly (outside of a barrage of garbage time points that gave him 12 points on 5 of 10 from the floor), but his willingness to facilitate and his passing ability seems to have returned in some capacity for the first time since early January. Clearly, the long NBA season has taken it’s toll on Shved’s legs, and in turn, his jump-shot and overall aggressiveness. It’s been good to see him look to pass and have some success in the final games of the season.
– The Wolves were able to hang around for much of the game largely due to the turnover differential. Even towards the end of the third quarter with the outcome still somewhat hanging in the balance, the Wolves had only turned the ball over 6 times to the Clippers’ 13 turnovers. Factoring in the fourth quarter and garbage time, the Wolves finished the game with just 9 turnovers compared to Los Angeles’ 20 miscues.
– The Wolves will be in Utah to face the Jazz on Friday night at 8:00 CST.