After a rousing home victory against the Miami Heat on Friday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves looked to parlay that momentum into a mini winning streak as they set off for a four-game west coast road trip.
And then... Sunday night happened.
Let’s break it down.
You know who was really good tonight? The Los Angeles Clippers.
Winners of 7 of their last 8 games coming into their Sunday night matchup against Minnesota, the Clippers put on an absolute shooting clinic at Staples Center against the Wolves putrid defense, connecting on a truly scintillating 21-of-42 threes in an all-out route of the visiting squad. LA led 104-68 at the end of three, which was noteworthy in and of itself as the Clippers have not lost a game when scoring 100 or more points through the first three quarters since 1989 (yes, that’s a real stat).
The “other” team from Los Angeles was led Sunday by Paul George, who continued to show why he’s one of the best two-way players in the entire league. PG13 gave the Wolves countless NSFW plays in the first half, making the game of basketball look far too easy as he cruised to a 23 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in just a casual 27 minutes of work. PG’s running mate, Kawhi Leonard, also had a ho-hum stat line against Minnesota, finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists in 23 minutes of action.
As for Minnesota, as I’ve said in the past about the “bad” section after wins, the same holds true for the “good” section after blowout losses. Outside of a strong first half from Naz Reid (who finished with 13 points on 50% shooting and 7 rebounds), there wasn’t much of anything to take away from this latest Wolves performance.
Yeah, Anthony Edwards finished with a team-high 23 points (his seventh 20+ point performance of the month), but it had little to no impact on Sunday night’s outcome.
During the third quarter, my dad texted me that if THIS Clippers squad played THIS Timberwolves squad in a 72-game series, the Clippers would win all 72 of those games.
Now, that may be a tad overdramatic, but it’s also not that far from the truth. The Wolves have indeed shown some promise since the All-Star break, but their fatal flaws (youth, putrid defense, and lack of rebounding) were on full display against this veteran-laden Clippers squad who are loaded with shooters and can rebound the hell out of the ball. LA destroyed Minnesota on the glass 48-37, shot 50.6% from the field (including 50% from deep), and made smart play after smart play to bury the inexperienced Wolves before most fans in the central time zone even fell asleep.
As was the case with last week’s games against the Bucks and 76ers, it’s hard to take much of anything away from blowout losses, other than hammering home the fact that they become less and less excusable when the Wolves have most of their players healthy and available. This specific Clippers team is definitely one of the handful of serious contenders to take home the Larry O’Brien later this summer (they would be my pick right now to cut down the proverbial nets), but that shouldn’t prevent the Wolves from remaining competitive in games like tonight, especially after their promising performance just 48 hours ago against the Miami Heat.
Regardless, the Wolves secured another “L” on Sunday, vaulting them back into the worst record in the league (15-43). With 14 games left before the season mercifully comes to an end, it’s going to be fascinating to keep tabs on the other bottom feeders in the NBA standings, most notably the Houston Rockets (15-42), Detroit Pistons (17-40), and Orlando Magic (18-39). For those of you wondering, Minnesota actually plays each of those teams one more time in the next couple of weeks, which means if you haven’t already, be sure to set your desktop’s homepage to www.tankathon.com.
Next up: back-to-back games against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday/Wednesday.