Led by a dominant effort from Chris Paul, the Clippers had little issue in blowing out the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. CP3 finished with 20 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds in a tidy 31 minutes of action as LAC overwhelmed the young Wolves and had the game won after three quarters. The Clips blocked nine shots as a team, forced the T'Wolves into committing 16 turnovers and led by as many as 33 on their way to an easy 99-79 win.
Neither team got off to a very hot start offensively, with the Clippers starting 3-for-9 and the Timberwolves going 2-for-11. DeAndre Jordan blocked shots from Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng on the Wolves' first two possessions, but immediately afterward, Minnesota used the floor-stretching ability of Karl-Anthony Towns to draw D.J. away from the bucket. Towns nailed his first two attempts from three-point range, but those were the Wolves' only points through the first half of the period.
Sam Mitchell deployed a full-on line change with no starter other than KAT able to muster anything offensively, while the Clippers began to find their sea legs. LAC built a 21-11 lead on the shoulders of 10 points and four assists from Chris Paul, who was getting essentially whatever shot he wanted. As noted by fill-in play-by-play guy Brian Seaman, Jamal Crawford came into the game and promptly did "Jamal Crawford things," scoring on a pair of tough floaters to put Los Angeles up 27-17 after one.
The second quarter began with 10 reserves on the floor. LAC started 0-for-6 from the field scored just three points (via Crawford FTs) over the first four minutes of the second as the Wolves started to chip away. Andrew Wiggins returned to the game and drilled a corner triple to cut the Clippers' lead down to just three at 30-27. Tired of empty possessions, Doc Rivers decided it was time to put CP3 and Jordan back out there.
Points were still hard to come by for the Clippers, but at least they were making things equally difficult for Minnesota on the other. A wonderful weakside block from Wesley Johnson on Towns drive gave the Clippers their seventh (!) block of the first half, and the Wolves were shooting just 29% to this point. The Clips were able to generate some open looks for themselves, they just weren't going down. They started the quarter just 2-of-13 overall, which helped keep Minnesota in it.
LAC finally grabbed a bit of momentum towards the end of the second. Redick finally drilled a three after missing each of his last four tries to push L.A. back up 10 ahead of the two-minute mark. Crawford followed with a three of his own right ahead of the horn, giving the Clips a 47-34 lead heading into the intermission.
Jordan's presence in the middle was essentially cutting off the penetration lanes for the likes of Wiggins, Rubio and Zach LaVine, which effectively neutered Minnesota's offense. The four Wolves starters not named Karl Towns combined to shoot 3-for-23 over the game's first 24 minutes. Yikes.
A strong bucket in the post from Jordan, a score on the break from Redick and a pull-up 17-footer from Johnson put the Clippers up 16 early in the second half. Luc Mbah a Moute (???) made a strong move to the cup for the and-one following yet another brick from Minnesota, and the wheels were starting to come off for the Wolves. Wiggins suffered a chin laceration on the play, and he didn't return. The Clippers were the noticeably more active and aggressive team. They weren't allowing Minnesota many second-chance opportunities, and were blocking shots and deflecting passes left-and-right.
CP3 picked up his 14th assist of the night on a beautiful dump-off to Jeff Green at the rim, and the Clippers had their largest lead of the game at 66-47. A subsequent J.J. longball after a timeout made it a 20-point advantage for the good guys. The Clippers closed things out in style with a CP-to-Austin Rivers three-pointer at the death of the period to go up by 26.
C.J. Wilcox and Jeff Ayres made it onto the floor about halfway through the fourth, in case you were wondering whether or not the Timberwolves actually made a push in this quarter.
Despite the fact that they're virtually locked into the No. 4 spot in the West come playoff time, it was impressive to see the Clippers play with this kind of passion and absolutely obliterate a team that had been playing well. The Wolves have only 25 wins all year, but their offense has been top-10 since the calendar flipped to 2016. Shutting them down the way LAC did isn't something a whole lot of teams have been able to do lately.
Minnesota was held to a grand total of four fastbreak points and shot just 34% as a team. The Clips didn't really have their A game going offensively throughout (they shot just 27% from three), but the surge to close the third was more than enough to put the game away. Towns made seven of his 13 shots, and the other four T'Wolves starters combined to make six. LAC just never let them breathe. Minnesota isn't a team loaded with perimeter shooters, so when they're unable to get into the lane offensively things can get ugly. They built a house of bricks tonight:
There's no telling how Doc Rivers will approach the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow in Oklahoma City as far as rest goes, but it helps that no starter needed to play more than 31 minutes in this one. CP3 has played 31 or fewer in each of the last four games - all wins - which is a recipe for success. It's important for the Clippers to play well and keep their focus down-the-stretch, even if wins and losses don't matter as much. So far, so good on that front.
Next up, the Clippers face the Thunder Thursday night at 6:30pm PT.