Tim's Game Preview: Game 56, Los Angeles Clippers


Last time we played these guys, there was talk of playoffs. I haven't heard much about that lately.

Minnesota Timberwolves (13-42) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (20-35) at Target Center

Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers come to the Twin Cities for the second time this season to face the Timberwolves. The Clippers lost 113-111 to the Wolves on November 17th after Michael Beasleyhit the game-winning jumper with 2.3 seconds left. They have dropped six of seven on an 11-game stretch away from the Staples Center, including a 102-78 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

The Wolves, meanwhile, had a tough go of it against the Blazers at home on Monday night. Kevin Love got his 50th double-double of the season, however, which makes him only the second player in NBA history (George Mikan was the first) to get 50 double-doubles before the All-Star break.

Michael Beasley is expected to miss this game for the Wolves.  

Let's break down the matchups: 


The Clipper centers should take cover now that Darko is back in the lineup.

Darko Milicic vs. DeAndre Jordan

Over the last ten games, DeAndre Jordan is putting up only 7 points and 5 rebounds per game. In 37 minutes against the Bucks, he shot 2-of-5, had 2 turnovers and committed 5 fouls. He's not exactly producing strong numbers right now. Against the Wolves, his average is a bit higher, but with Darko Milicic back from injury, Jordan will likely have a tough go of it tonight. Jordan simply doesn't have the strength to defend Darko in the post and doesn't have the shot or basketball IQ to score on Darko on the other end.

There has been talk about signing Jordan if and when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Okay, but why should we sign a guy who our centers routinely dominate? Isn't that going the wrong way?

Winner: Darko Milicic 



 The most-anticipated matchup since the last time the Wolves played the Clippers.

Kevin Love vs. The Guy Unfairly Picked Over LaMarcus Aldridge

Blake Griffin doesn't deserve to be in the All-Star Game. The guy does flashy dunks and occasionally dives into the crowd. Great. Somebody get me Spud Webb and Mark Madsen on the phone. He's already in the Slam Dunk Contest and the Rookie/Sophomore game. Does he really need more minutes at the All-Star Weekend? Maybe if his team had a better record, but the Clippers are terrible. It's easy to put up big numbers on a terrible team.

Meanwhile, Kevin Love is everything that an All-Star should be. Great production. Team success. Funny commercials. BS Report appearances.

It's not even a contest. I'd rather see someone deserving of an All-Star appearance - like Aldridge, David West or Anthony Tolliver - make the team. Sometimes, I think this All-Star Game is more about entertainment than quality, fundamental basketball.

Winner: Kevin Love



You can really see the positive impact of playing in Minnesota by watching Ryan Gomes.

Wesley Johnsonvs. Ryan Gomes

Anyone who has lived in Minnesota knows that the state just inspires excellence. I don't know if its something in the air or the water. I don't know if its the weather. But something positive happens that improves the lives of those who choose to live or move here.

Ryan Gomes is a great example of that. Last season, he was starting for the Wolves. He was averaging 10.9 points and 4.6 rebounds a game on 45% shooting (37% from downtown and 82% from the FT line). He received several mentions for the All-Star game.

This year? His numbers are down across the board. Only 8.4 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. Only shooting 42% (35% from 3 and 74% from the FT line). He's still starting for the Clippers but his production has slipped remarkably. I attribute it to the fact that Los Angeles simply can't equal the positive effect of living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The city stole the Lakers, copied our football team's colors and has been suffering due to negative karma for decades.

If Ryan Gomes were traded back to Minnesota tonight, I'd wager that his numbers would return to normal in no time.

Winner: Wesley Johnson



I want Wayne in the starting lineup. He deserves it.

Wayne Ellington vs. Eric Gordon

I don't care that Corey Brewer is likely to get the start tonight. As much as I love Corey, its time for Wayne Ellington to get a nod in the starting lineup. Other than a poor game against the Sixers, he has been producing very well lately, despite not playing very many minutes at the beginning of this season. He's kept himself ready and that's a very impressive trait in the NBA.

Eric Gordon is a player that many Wolves have coveted. While there aren't that many similarities in their games, I think Ellington could become our long-term option at shooting guard. Develop Ellington's game, give him more minutes and let him carry us instead of overpaying someone like Gordon.

Winner: Wayne Ellington (and Corey Brewer)



Baron Davis, announcing his decision to join the National Tree Service, Fashion Police, Canadian military, Los Angeles Clippers.

Luke Ridnour vs. Baron Davis

It's disappointing that Baron Davis has not done more with his potential and his career. He's very talented. But instead of basketball, he's concentrated more on film projects, eating and other endeavors outside of basketball. This season, playing with Blake Griffin seems to have sparked Davis to care about the game again. But how much? When Love shuts down Griffin, will Davis relapse? When Davis realizes that he can't guard Jonny Flynn or Luke Ridnour, will he just stop playing defense altogether?

Luke Ridnour is likely to start tonight's game. Jonny has been getting too stressed out and overworked. He needs a little bit of a break. I'm excited that Luke is ready to lead our offense again and get us back on a winning track.

Winner: Luke Ridnour



Vinny Del Negro, showing how happy he is with his decision to coach the Los Angeles Clippers.

My Prediction: Timberwolves 110 - Los Angeles Clippers 90

Timberwolves' Record: 14-42

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