The Clippers fell to the Timberwolves tonight, at home, 122-104.
Patrick Beverley’s dribble penetration and pocket passes to start the game generated easy looks for Minnesota. Against a depleted Clippers defense tonight, the fan favorite was able to orchestrate an offense that was firing on all cylinders, to the tune of 11 points and 12 assists.
The limited Clippers roster, in turn, resulted in two ten-day contract guys — Xavier Moon and Wenyen Gabriel — subbing in to close the first quarter. It wasn’t long after that when Clippers rookie Keon Johnson earned his first minutes tonight.
If I were only allowed two words for this recap you’re reading right now, they would have been “turnover trouble.” The Clippers threw errant passes, stepped out of bounds, and overall employed sloppy execution to the tune of eight turnovers in the first quarter, 14 by the half, 17 by the third quarter, and 20 by the end of the game. To their credit, they were able to generate 17 from the Timberwolves as well. The difference, however, was in Minnesota’s ability to capitalize on the Clippers mistakes, and the inability of the Clippers to do the same.
If I were allowed two more words? I’d add on “three-pointers”. The Clippers, who average over 14 threes a game, made just 11 tonight (and a handful of them coming at the end of the fourth quarter of an already-decided game). Between Marcus Morris Sr. Reggie Jackson, and Eric Bledsoe, the trio of veterans made shot just 2-of-12.
On the other end, Jaden McDaniels shot freely and with confidence, including three in a row halfway through the second quarter. The Timberwolves, who average 33.7% shooting this season, made almost 37% of their long distance shots tonight. To the Timberwolves credit, they didn’t just out-shoot the Clippers, they outplayed them tonight. Registering an advantage from three was not simply a matter of hot shooting, but also a direct result of a 33 to 22 assists advantage, in Minnesota’s favor.
Edwards’ continuation of his sophomore year tear further added to the Timberwolves advantage. Edwards finished the game with an effortless 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field.
Jackson entered tonight on a personal 19-game win streak against the Timberwolves. Despite a last second heave that cut the deficit to 18, that streak seemed to be in trouble, as the Clippers trailed the Timberwolves 64-46 headed into the half.
And while Morris Sr. was forced to play some hero ball when the Clippers offense fell stagnant, it was actually Serge Ibaka, with 15 points in the first half, who provided some hope for the Clippers going into the second half.
Between the aforementioned strong shooting and stringent defense from the Timberwolves, and sloppy turnovers and complacent offense from the Clippers, this game quickly became a 23-point blowout. A Minnesota timeout at the end of the third quarter, however, seemed to reset the Clippers and spark a resurgence of effort. Even with the increased intensity, however, shots seemed hesitant to fall.
A quick run, led by Moon and Johnson, momentarily brought the deficit to just 12 with nine minutes to go in the game. A pair of Minnesota threes extinguished that momentum. Moon, however, impressed with his effort and offensive production, albeit in spurts, tonight.
If you’re looking for a silver lining besides the play of Moon, look no further than Brian Sieman, who had a field day with Star Wars and Clippers players-related puns tonight.
The Clippers will look to stay above .500 Thursday at Phoenix.