It’s been an emotional week for the city of Los Angeles, but after the Lakers paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant on Friday, things have started to feel somewhat normal again and the Clippers showed they’re back to business as usual with a dominant 118-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Saturday.
The Clippers didn’t have an answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, who tallied 32 points on 50% shooting from the field and 12 rebounds, but that was to be expected with how much this team has struggled against teams with skilled big men this season. It’s also less of an issue when said big man is the only offensive threat on the floor.
While four different players finished in double figures for the Timberwolves, KAT was the only one that shot above 50% from the field. Andrew Wiggins, who ranked second on the Timberwolves in points per game, shot 36.4% from the field on 11 attempts. The Clippers played well, but the Timberwolves are also just not good, having now lost their last 11 games.
All that being said, it was a good win for the Clippers, who looked like they might let another lesser team stick around for far too long and steal a game once again. Midway through the third quarter, Minnesota was within striking distance, but Kawhi Leonard and Paul George did what superstars do and helped the Clippers pull away.
Even if the end result was the expected result, it wasn’t the guaranteed one, and it’s worth celebrating.
Split Duties: Kawhi Leonard had a monster first half, scoring 24 points to go along with 5 rebounds and a pair of assists. However, he ended the game with 31 points — his ninth straight game with at least 30 points — in 23 minutes. That’s because Paul George had it going in the second half, leaping from 7 points to 21 points on 9-18 shooting from the field, including 3-6 from behind the arc. When George and Leonard are both going, the Clippers are a really, really hard team to beat, and with each game it seems like they’re starting to figure this dual superstar thing out.
Trezz Finishes Strong: Montrezl Harrell rolled his ankle and limped off the floor, into the locker room at the end of the first half on Saturday, but he was able to return to the floor and finish the game with 16 points on 61.5% shooting from the field. Trezz doesn’t have the size to compete with the likes of KAT and Gorgui Dieng on the defensive end, but on offense he’s able to counter their size with his speed and athleticism, although Trezz was a little reluctant to go at Dieng, his former Louisville teammate.
Good Guard Play: The Clippers got some solid production from their three-guard tandem of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Landry Shamet on Saturday. Shamet in particular continues to look stronger with each game he’s able to shake the rust off. He’s averaged 15.8 points per game on 47.3% shooting from the field, including 46.3% from 3, over the last five games. Combined, Beverley, Williams and Shamet contributed 39 points, with Williams leading the way with 17 points, albeit on an inefficient 7-19 from the field.
The Clippers will return to action on Monday to take on the San Antonio Spurs at home.