As much as we wanted the Clippers to run away with this game and get an easy win in their first game after the All Star break, their last home game before embarking on a six game road trip, their last February game before a brutal March, it seemed as if it was just destined to go down to the wire. That is until the Timberwolves (and more specifically Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley) decided to never miss again.
I've played enough basketball to know that if the other team never misses, it's pretty difficult to win. And for over 11 minutes of basketball, the Timberwolves didn't miss. From the final 50 seconds of the third quarter (when the Clippers were ahead by six) to 90 seconds left in the game (when it had long since been decided in Minnesota's favor), Minnesota made twelve straight shots. And that's not all. Four of the 12 were three pointers. They also went to the line 11 times and made 10 of them. And it was all in the half court offense -- it wasn't as if Minnesota was getting fast break layups. They simply isolated Williams and Beasley, and those guys DID NOT MISS. The did however have one turnover during that time, so it's not as if they were perfect.
The idea of scoring 38 points in 11 minutes in 18 possessions is just crazy. That's an offensive efficiency of 211 points in 100 possessions. Williams finished the game with a career high 27 points on 9 for 10 shooting including 4 three pointers without a miss. When you factor in the three pointers, Williams' effective field goal percentage was 110%. He was also 5 for 5 from the line. You could say that the Clippers didn't defend well, but then again this is a guy who was 12 for 48 on threes coming into the game. The scouting report probably said to let him take the threes. Then, once he got going, the defense didn't really matter. Several of his shots were pure heat checks, deep threes with a guy in his face -- and they went in. What do you shoot when your heat check goes in? A heat check check?
Beasley was almost as unconscious as Williams. He was 11 for 15 for the game, made all three of his threes, and like Williams finished with 27. Neither Williams nor Beasley missed in the second half -- they combined to shoot 13 for 13 including 5 three pointers.
Were the Clippers concerned about All Star Kevin Love, or hot shot rookie Ricky Rubio coming into the game? Maybe. And they did a fine job of stopping those guys, who were held to 5 for 21 shooting and combined to score just 12 points. But it didn't matter, since those weren't the guys on the floor in the crucial fourth quarter, when Minnesota turned a three point deficit (they had trailed since the score was 6-4) into a blow out victory. Rubio played 82 seconds of garbage time in the fourth -- Love didn't play at all.
Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley, a pair of second overall picks who were great power forwards in college but have struggled to get their bearings in the NBA, will never again have a quarter, let a lone a game, like they did tonight. Individually, they will never be that hot again -- that they were both that hot at the same time -- well, the Clippers might not have won this game anyway, but when something like that happens, there's nothing you can do. You pack your bags and start preparing for Sacramento.
In addition to the other worldly stats for Williams and Beasley, there are a few key numbers to digest for the Clippers (all, oddly, having an 11 in them):
- 2 for 11 -- the Clippers tied a season low with just two three pointers and were stone cold from the perimeter.
- 1 for 11 -- the Clippers small forward position contributed just 2 points, and Caron Butler went 1 for 10 and newcomer Bobby Simmons went 0 for 1 (while also passing up multiple looks) in his first game since signing a 10 day contract.
- 72 to 11 -- the Timberwolves scored more bench points than any NBA team this season, led of course by the double 27s of Williams and Beasley. The Clippers got 8 points from Mo Williams, a free throw from Reggie Evans, and a garbage time layup from Brian Cook.
The shame of it is that the Clippers squandered one of Blake Griffin's best games. He scored 18 first quarter points, finished with 30, and seemed unstoppable early. But he scored just a single point in the fourth quarter, as everything seemingly went right for the Wolves and wrong for the Clippers.
Oh well. Moving on.