Tonight's theme of the game: scoring runs.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, it was Chris Paul's run to end the game that gave the Clippers the 102-98 edge tonight at the Target Center. It's the second straight loss for the Wolves, dropping their record to 7-6. The Clippers improve to 8-4 on the year with the victory, winning their seventh straight game against the Wolves.
The game featured a 12-0 and an 11-0 run to open the 1st and 2nd quarters respectively for the Clippers, who took advantage of the same transition defense (or lack thereof, in this case) that contributed to Minnesota's loss last night to the Wizards in D.C.
Still, the Wolves managed to battle back each time, and in the second quarter, they even went on a 22-4 run of their own, building a lead as high as seven. As the quarter ended, however, they let Los Angeles get back into it, as they went on yet another run, this time a 7-0 run in the half's final two minutes to tie the game at 46.
In the second half, it felt like the Wolves were playing catchup the entire time. But, once again, they were able to come back from a double digit deficit to make it an 86-85 game (Clippers up) with 4 minutes to go in the game.
Then, Chris Paul showed everyone why he's considered a top 3 player in the NBA.
CP3 scored the next 12 points for the Clippers, killing any momentum that the Wolves could muster as the game came to an end. He completely took over, hitting shots on some pretty solid defense by Ricky Rubio. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Chris Paul was, and is, too good.
He finished the night with 20 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. Like a true superstar, he made his mark in the scoring column to close out the game.
Blake Griffin did a lot of the damage for LAC early, scoring 20 points on 10-19 shooting and coming away with 10 rebounds. His overall game looks much improved from a year ago, and he's really starting to hit those mid rangers he's been shooting since his rookie year. Jamal Crawford had 16 and J.J. Redick had 15 to round out LA's leading scorers.
Chris Paul is the Clippers' MVP, and played quite well. Kevin Love, despite quietly coming close to a triple double, had his worst shooting night of the year thus far. He finished tonight 2-14 from the field with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists.
With Love's struggles, it was Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin who took on the majority of the scoring load for Minnesota. Pek finished with 20 points and 7 boards on 9-13 shooting, and had little issue scoring on LA's bigs for the second straight time.
Kevin Martin had 28 points, recovering nicely from a poor shooting performance a night ago against the Wizards. He shot 11-21 and went 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Derrick Williams got into the rotation tonight, and struggled to convert on anything. He finished 0-4, and was -8 while on the floor. He did get to the line a couple times and had 4 rebounds in 10 minutes, but overall, not the game Williams was hoping for.
In Williams' defense, Dante Cunningham was the only bench player to contribute for the Wolves. Excluding Cunningham's 4-8 shooting for 8 points, the bench as a whole shot 1-15 for 6 points.
The Wolves won the battle of getting to the foul line (25-31 for Minnesota, 10-16 for the Clippers), but the Wolves' inability to contain Chris Paul is what ultimately finished them off.
A few final notes:
- Love after the game, per the AP's Jon Krawczynski:
Love: "For the 1st time ... my emotions got the best of me." Said was frustrated w/Clips physical play and his poor shooting— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) November 21, 2013
- The Wolves, to their credit, do not quit during games. As Eric mentioned in the post game thread, five of their six losses are by a combined 15 points. That has to be a good sign, no?
- The Wolves will play Brooklyn Friday night at the Target Center at 7pm for their next game. The game will be broadcast at 7pm on FS North. It very well may be the last time Kevin Garnett laces up his sneakers at the Target Center. Very weird to think about.