First thing, Minnesota played well and deserved the victory tonight. The Clippers bungled the ball repeatedly throughout the game and received very poor play from JJ Redick and Paul Pierce.
That said, I was not surprised in the least to learn from Ralph Lawler that two of tonight's refs, Scott Foster and Lauren Holtkamp, were voted the worst and second worst refs in the league according to an LA Times poll of players and coaches. Again, I am not saying that they are the reason the Clippers lost tonight. But Holtkamp's tech on Chris Paul at the end of the game and Foster's tech on Austin Rivers (that led to his ejection in the second) were both absurd overreactions and certainly hindered the Clips down the stretch.
The game was tight throughout the first quarter. Karl Anthony Towns was benched early with foul trouble. Chris Paul and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute were playing well but Pierce and Redick couldn't buy a bucket. The teams traded baskets throughout the frame, which ended 27 all.
The Clippers went on an 8-0 scoring run from the close of the first through the opening moments of the second, then things got a little weird. Austin Rivers scored on a lay-up and was clearly fouled. He yelled, "And one," and promptly received a tech. As he walked away, he appeared to say, "That's a f***ing foul." Scott Foster immediately gave him a second tech and booted him from the competition. I have to say, I've seen many players do much worse and not even garner a sideways look form a ref. Rivers's defense would certainly be missed.
The Wolves put together a run of their own behind uncharacteristically good 3 point shooting by Andrew Wiggins, which once agin evened the score, this time at 53. The Aged A**Hole, Andre Miller, fouled Paul with five seconds left in the half. Paul would go to the line and sink both to put the Clippers up by 2 going into the break.
The home team looked listless to start the second half, and the Wolves took advantage, going on a quick 14-0 run. Towns, who was 0-4 in the first half, scored 13 in the third quarter. The Clippers managed to pull within 2 thanks to some timely buckets by Wesley Johnson.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the refs. the teams traded 8-0 runs that were largely fueled by trips to the line. The Clippers took the lead 88-87 off a Jamal Crawford lay-up and the Wolves responded with a 9-0 run. The Clips put together another 8-0 run to tie it at 96.
The Clippers had multiple chances to take the lead down the stretch but couldn't pull it off. Mainly because JJ missed shots and then dribbled the ball off his foot. The Wolves invoked Lawler's Law with a Wiggins lay-up over Johnson.
Fast forward a tick, Clippers are down 102-100. Redick and Paul have Ricky Rubio trapped with the ball near half court. JJ gets a little to close and fouls Rubio. An upset Paul slaps his hands together and Holtkamp calls an insanely touchy technical foul that pretty much puts the game out of reach for the Clippers. One has to wonder if she is still salty about Paul's comments last season.
Look, the Clippers didn't execute up to their abilities on either side of the floor and the Wolves played above theirs, especially from behind the arc. It's a frustrating loss that breaks a 14-game winning streak over the Wolves - the longest over any team in franchise history. It's a bad way to go out before a road trip, especially when you consider the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder all got wins tonight.