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Clippers 120, Wolves 109: Butler Returns, Defense Still Missing

Wolves lose their 3rd straight on this trip.

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

The Wolves fell to 0-3 on their West Coast road trip with a 120-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

As is so often the case, the Wolves struggled defensively and on the glass. The return of Jimmy “General Soreness” Butler didn’t help, as the Clippers shot 49 percent from the field, including 14-31 from three, and grabbed 13 offensive boards. The threes were especially painful as at the other end the Wolves managed only 5-21 from beyond the arc.

The game started out crisp, with neither team turning the ball over in the first quarter, and both finding ways to score. For the Clippers it was Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari beyond the arc, and Boban Marjanovic inside, while the Wolves countered with hot starts from Derrick Rose, starting in place of the injured Jeff Teague, and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Towns had one of his best halves of the season in the first half of this one, posting a double-double in the half, and also being very active defensively, blocking shots and blowing up several Clippers possessions by controlling the paint. The Wolves could not consistently stop the Clippers, however, and trailed by four at halftime.

Still, it was a competitive game and looked like it was set up for a big night from Towns, but the second half was a different story. The Clippers got off to a quick start, and the Wolves were not able to respond. Towns was largely not involved through most of the rest of the game, taking only three second half shots. Part of this was on him, as his energy level clearly decreased after halftime, but much of it was on his teammates and a scheme that did not prioritize getting him the ball.

Derrick Rose led the team in shot attempts with 20, leading to his 21 points. This cannot be a sustainable thing, and yet it happens regularly. So much of the Wolves offense is putting Rose or Butler in screen-roll action, which not only is not useful for the future, but also has its downsides in the present. Rose has tunnel vision, and is far too willing to hoist up shots from anywhere. His hot start was perhaps a double-edged sword, since he didn’t stop shooting the rest of the night.

As for General Soreness, his effort through three quarters was appalling. He looked completely detatched, which makes one wonder what the point of him sitting out last night was. He came to life in the fourth, particularly with an early flurry that got the Wolves close, but the Clippers extended their lead back out with some timely Lou Williams buckets, and were able to hold off the Wolves from there.

The entire fiasco needs to end. Butler choosing when to play, then showing intermittent effort when he’s on the court is doing nobody any good. But we’ve been over that enough times.

The Wolves fall to 4-7 on the season, and will stay in L.A. to face the Lakers on Wednesday.

Let’s hit a few notes so I can go to bed:

  • The Clippers get great production off their bench. Lou Williams scored 20, and Montrez Harrell had 13, mostly on dunks. Overall they outscored the Wolves bench 50-20.
  • Another night of struggle for Andrew Wiggins, who went 4-16 from the floor and scored 13 points.
  • The Clippers had 30 assists on 43 made field goals. They moved the ball well, especially after drives collapsed the defense. Open threes and easy ones from the dunker’s spot were featured.