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Clippers 128, Wolves 101: Some Familiar Looking Defense

The starting unit in particular had a grim defensive performance

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers ran roughshod over the Timberwolves in preseason action last night in L.A., starting off hot and ultimately cruising to the 128-101 win.

The Clips got big games from their starting forwards, Tobias Harris (22) and Danilo Gallinari (23) and shot 55 percent from the field as a team. They shredded the Wolves defense in ways we have become, unfortunately, accustomed to seeing.

The Wolves’ starting unit in particular struggled badly, with all of them posting an individual +/- of -19 or worse. It was terribly ugly. The starting backcourt of Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose revealed it’s weaknesses. Neither of them had a strong offensive game—they combined to shoot 3-18 and score 13 points while posting more turnovers than assists—but it was on defense that the real issues existed.

The problem with that undersized backcourt is any switch of a screen left them hopelessly outmatched by bigger players. Harris and especially Gallo took advantage of this all night, shooting over smaller players with no hesitation. Teague and Rose are simply not big enough and not good enough defensively to bother guys like this.

The Clippers also wrecked the Wolves on fairly simple pick-and-roll plays, with the roll man easily getting open around the rim. They still don’t have an effective plan to stop this simple action. As a result, Montrez Harrell went 6-7 from the field and scored 13 easy points, while Boban Marjanovic tossed in 15.

The bench unit was significantly better, though it should be noted they were playing mostly against Clippers reserves. Still, Anthony Tolliver sparked an early run for the Wolves, and Tyus Jones was the team’s most effective lead guard, as he often is.

I have been impressed with the play of the rookies over the first two games. Josh Okogie has shown excellent defensive effort and instincts in the preseason, fighting through screens and contesting shots (he recorded three blocks last night.) His offense is a bit wild at times, but overall he looks like an NBA player. Keita Bates-Diop had a good night offensively, scoring 11 on 5-6 shooting. He isn’t nearly the athlete Okogie is, but seems to know what he’s doing out there.

Lets hit some notes:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was very impressive. He started, scored 12 with five assists, and looked like he belonged. Long, good shooting stroke, there is a lot to like.
  • The Wolves got the ball to KAT a bit more tonight, and he led the team with 18 points. They were dumping it to him in the post in the first half, which was tough going; I would like to see him get it on the perimeter and make decisions from there. His driving ability should be exploited more.
  • 63 total fouls called in this game, 38 on the Clips. The Wolves took 48 free throws.
  • Thought Wiggins looked a bit more active last night, though the FT bug from last year remains: 3-7 from the line.