Back-to-backs, a couple of days off or four days rest like today, it doesn’t matter. The Timberwolves losing is as certain as death or taxes. This game was no different, as the Wolves fell 118-106 to the Los Angeles Clippers in a matinee Staples Center outing.
At times, it looked like the Wolves were ready to make L.A. sweat a little bit, like when they had it within a single point in the second quarter or within five points in the third. Ultimately, this team is completely devoid of any real game-changing talent outside of Karl-Anthony Towns. That was as glaring as ever against a quality opponent.
The Clippers’ stars feasted on Minnesota’s perimeter defenders all night long. Both Paul George (21 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) and Kawhi Leonard (31 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) did what they do best, slithering around the 3-point line and mid-range area to split seams and find space for open jumpers. Overall, Los Angeles shot 45.9 percent from the field and 35.3 from behind the arc. That’s actually an improvement over Minnesota’s recent defensive efforts — which gives you an idea of how poor they have been on that end during this 11-game losing streak.
While the sun was shining bright on the Clippers side of the floor, it wasn’t so sweet for the Wolves. The game was another notch on a long line of games that the system failed them in. They finished with just seven made triples from 39 attempts (17.9%), which is nothing new for this squad. They also struggled to find any success with the defensive drop scheme, which allowed far too much space for Leonard and George to go to work.
In the end, the only bright spot was Karl-Anthony Towns. He has been on the receiving end of a mountain of criticism lately, but there is no denying he was the only thing keeping the Timberwolves afloat for the majority of this game. Even his much-maligned defense wasn’t bad enough to really be a talking point in this one. He dropped 32 on 11-22 shooting — no other Wolves had more than 13 — grabbed 12 boards and dished out 3 assists, too.
Towns didn’t have his usual touch from beyond the arc (2-9) but he was bullying Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell inside and jetting past them when they stepped out to guard him on the perimeter. Evidence of the Clippers’ inability to guard him is evidenced in this Zubac x Leonard poster.
Unfortunately, as is the case on far too many nights, he just didn’t have enough help. Andrew Wiggins lost whatever momentum he could have gained when he was slapped with three early fouls and subsequently taken out of the game by Ryan Saunders. The struggling coach must know something we don’t about Wiggins being prone to fouling out.
In the end, Wiggins went into his usual coast-mode and looked disinterested and disengaged. Very much on-brand after reeling fans back in with a 36-point, 8-rebound, 9-assist showing in the calamitous Kings loss. He finished tonight with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 4-11 from the field.
The Clippers are genuinely good and even at their best Minnesota might not have won this one, but moral victories are out the window after 11 straight losses. They will have a chance to end that skid and take some revenge on the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.