An in-game loss of Nikola Pekovic (ankle) softened the blow to Clippers, who were without Blake Griffin (back spasms), as the Clippers handled the Timberwolves 114-104 tonight at the Target Center. The game was close until a huge run in the 3rd quarter by the Clippers gave them an easy victory.
Both Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan did a lot of work on the glass tonight, compiling a combined 37 rebounds between the two of them, 22 of those coming in just the first half. Love finished with 13 boards, while Jordan nearly doubled that effort with 24 of his own.
The first quarter featured lots of missed shots, and a lot of the aforementioned rebounds as a result. The Wolves' 32 percent first quarter shooting gave DeAndre Jordan a chance at 12 rebounds in the games first 12 minutes. The Clippers shot just 36.5 percent in the first, and Kevin Love took advantage, grabbing 9 early boards.
Midway through the second quarter, it was announced that Nikola Pekovic would not return due to soreness in his ankle. It's a re-aggravation of his previous ankle problems, and it's unclear as to whether he'll be available for Wednesday's game against the Grizzlies.
While this gave Gorgui Dieng a chance to get some more burn, he was forced to do so against Jordan, one of the league's most physically imposing players. Still, Dieng held his own, shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field, finishing with 14 points, 4 boards, and 1 block (though I remember a couple).
Even without Pek, the Wolves were able to keep it close with LAC leading into the first half, trailing just 54-51.
The Clippers pulled away in the 3rd quarter when they went on a 22-5 run to extend their lead to double digits for the first time. Minnesota did virtually nothing to defend the cut or the drive, and the Clippers (with their two-point guard backcourt) took advantage in a big way. Aside from a decent 4th quarter run to cut the lead to 8 (featuring a lineup completely comprised of reserves), the Wolves never recovered.
The defense fell apart in the 3rd quarter, but it was a pretty pitiful effort on that end throughout multiple parts of the game. Lots of easy opportunities inside for the Clippers, along with a not-so-surprising number of wide open three-point attempts. What may have been the most talked-about defensive play came courtesy of Kevin Martin, who opted for the half court line, rather than guarding his man (Darren Collison) as he caught a pass.
While this was the most noticeable defensive lapse of the night, the level of effort as a whole wasn't too far off from this play. The crowd was as quiet as ever in that quarter (excluding the large number of life-long Clipper fans in attendance), and the silence was justified. The 38-point fourth made the game somewhat engaging, but it was pretty obviously too out-of-reach for anyone to get too excited.
A few final notes:
- Boy, did the starting lineup shoot poorly. Only 1 player shot 50 percent or better (Corey Brewer 4-8). Next best? Kevin Love, who went 8-21. The starting group shot 32.6 percent as a whole, and (as mentioned) didn't do much to make up for it on the other end.
- Once again, Shabazz Muhammad didn't see any action until garbage minutes hit, and to his credit, he managed to fill up the stat sheet yet again. He had a nice drive, spin, and hook in the paint for his first score, and kept it up as the 4th quarter continued. He was a big reason why the end of the 4th was semi-interesting for a while. It can be tough to gauge coach Adelman's lineups, but I think it's a safe bet that Shabazz will get more minutes next game.
- Or so I thought, until the post-game presser. When asked about Shabazz's minutes and if he could have been used earlier in the game, Rick Adelman mentioned that, based on the same logic, he could "say the same thing about Robbie" as well. In regards to the demands to get Muhammad in the game: "Trust me, if I thought one guy could play and I could continue to use him, I'd do that. It's been so up and down."
- Robbie Hummel came in today as the backup small 3/4 combo. It was likely a matter of match ups, and he did shoot the ball well offensively, nailing 3 three-pointers in the game.
- Tonight's loss is the first of a quick two-game home stand, with Memphis on Wednesday being the next game slated on the schedule.