The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off a solid 120-109 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, despite being without key defenders Luc Mbah a Moute and Avery Bradley. The Clippers improve to 6-4 with the win, while the T-Wolves fall to 4-7. The franchises will meet two more times this season, both times in Minneapolis.
The starting lineups for Monday’s match-up were not confirmed until shortly before tip-off.
Los Angeles revealed that defensive force Avery Bradley would not play, due to a left ankle sprain suffered during Sunday’s team practice. Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made his first NBA start, playing in Bradley’s stead.
The Timberwolves also had last-minute announcements, confirming that Jimmy Butler had decided to play, and that Derrick Rose would also suit up.
The starting five for each squad shook out as follows:
Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanović
Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins
In the first quarter, all eyes were on Boban Marjanović and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in their second and first starts, respectively. Boban got into early foul trouble, and after less than 7 minutes was riding the pine, replaced by Montrezl Harrell. Boban had 2 points, three rebounds and this nifty over shoulder drop pass to Gallo for one assist in the first frame.
Shai played a solid, but somewhat nervous, seven minutes, adding 2 points and 3 assists.
The Clippers defense struggled early without Mbah a Moute and Bradley, and they seemingly had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns had 13 points in the quarter. Derrick Rose also started off hot with his hard to stop athleticism. He had nine points in the frame.
Milos Teodosic had a productive couple of minutes at the end of the quarter with the Clippers’ second unit. He hit a beautiful three-pointer, then on the next possession dished successfully to a cutting Lou Williams. He has performed well in his limited minutes this season.
After one quarter the Timberwolves led by two, 33-31. Tobias Harris had 8 points, 3 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari had 8 points, 2 assists, and Lou Williams had 6 points, 1 assist for the Clippers. Karl-Anthony Towns was best for the Timberwolves, with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
The second quarter started off with Harrell, Williams, Teodosic, and Scott on the floor. They were joined by rookie Jerome Robinson, fresh off his 28-point, 4-rebound performance in his debut for the Agua Caliente Clippers on Sunday. Robinson did not disappoint, at least on the offensive end of the floor. He was full of shooting confidence and nailed two nice three-pointers. He’s a shooter. No doubt about that.
Teodosic again showed off his playmaking abilities in the second frame, feeding Harrell with a pass between the legs of Gorgui Dieng that was reminiscent of CP3. Ah, memories ....
This second unit lineup was very effective against the Timberwolves’ bench, and opened up a 6-point Clipper lead by mid-quarter. The Clippers were successful in maintaining that lead through the half. At intermission the Clippers were on top 63-59.
Stats at the Half:
Both the Clippers and Timberwolves shot 51.1 percent from the field in the half. It was a fun, nice-paced 24 minutes of basketball. The Clippers also shot 50 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 18) and had 19 assists. On the downside, the Clippers were out-rebounded in the half (21 to 22), and had five turnovers to the Timberwolves’ three.
Clippers: Tobias Harris: 17 points, 5 rebounds; Danilo Gallinari: 11 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists; Lou Williams: 11 points, 3 assists.
Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns: 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks; Derrick Rose 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists.
In the second half, the Clippers were more aggressive on both ends of the floor. Although the Timberwolves hung around right up until the final minutes, it never felt like they had a chance to pull this one out.
Marjanović was successful drawing fouls on the Timberwolves’ bigs (as opposed to committing them) early in the third and got to the line for some easy buckets. He ended the game with 10 points.
Patrick Beverley was driving to the basket regularly and kept shooting from outside despite his recent struggles on offense. His persistence paid off as he finally appeared to find his stroke. He also ended the game with 10 points.
No surprises here, but it was Harris (22), Gallinari (22) and Williams (20) who led the way on offense for Los Angeles, with Harrell (13) not far behind. A balanced effort.
Defensively, the Clippers as a team turned it up a notch, particularly when “fourth quarter” Jimmy Butler showed up, going off for 16 points in the final frame. Butler proved difficult to contain, particularly for 21-year-old rookie Robinson, who lost track of the shifty All-Star on a number of back door cuts. Beverley was really the only Clipper able to keep Butler in check down the stretch.
Final score: 120-109.
Notable Final Stats:
- Tobias Harris: 22 pts, 10 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl
- Danilo Gallinari: 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- Lou Williams: 20 points, 6 assists
- Montrezl Harrell: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks
- Boban Marjanović: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
- Patric Beverley: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
- Andrew Wiggins: 13 points 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- Taj Gibson: 15 points, 9 rebounds
- Karl-Anthony Towns: 20 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists
- Jimmy Butler: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists
- Derrick Rose: 21 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
- The Clippers’ perimeter defense was strong. They held the Timberwolves to 5 for 21 from the three-point line (23.8%).
- The Clippers converted on 14 of 31 from beyond the arc (45.2%), a great sign for a squad you don’t necessarily equate with lights-out shooting.
- Turnovers continue to be a concern. Los Angeles finished the game with 12 turnovers, resulting in 15 points for Minnesota.
- Excellent free throw shooting continues. The Clippers were 20 for 22 from the line in Monday’s outing (90.9%). No disrespect to DeAndre Jordan, but not having opponents “hack-a-DJ” to disrupt game flow has been fantastic this season.
- Depth matters! The Clippers depth and array of weapons was really on display tonight, and enough can’t be said about the excellent job Doc Rivers and staff are doing in maximizing the talent they have on roster.
- “Mr. Consistency” Tobias Harris continues to impress. Harris has scored more than 15 points in all ten of the Clippers’ games this season. Having a small forward that can consistently put up such numbers will be invaluable as the season progresses.
- Mike Scott put in some good minutes tonight and hit some key shots. Look for his time on the floor to increase in the next stretch of games.
Tomorrow, PLEASE exercise your right to vote!
The Clippers play next on Thursday, November 8, when they take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers in Portland.