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Clippers collapse in fourth quarter, lose Timberwolves in first play-in game

The Clippers made costly mistakes down the stretch of Tuesday’s game.

LA Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves - Play-In Tournament Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Karl-Anthony Towns had a night to forget on Tuesday. In 24:17 against the Los Angeles Clippers, he was held to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field and early into the fourth quarter, he was ejected from the game with six personal fouls.

One would expected the Clippers to run away with the game after that, but it was actually the Timberwolves that picked up the intensity in KAT’s absence. The Clippers tried their best to match that intensity but ultimately fell short, losing 109-104 at the Target Center. They’ll now play whoever wins between the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans in another play-in game on Thursday.

The easiest thing to do would be to say that the Clippers ran out of gas in the fourth quarter and were overwhelmed by the Timberwolves’ home court advantage, but the truth is that Tyronn Lue’s side just had too many mental lapses at crucial points in the game and Minnesota exploited them. Specifically, the Clippers turned the ball over 17 times, something you just can’t do against a team as offensively sound as the Timberwolves.

The Clippers also had another night of scattered cold scoring stretches, which weren’t helped by their percentage from the free-throw line (74-1%). If they’re going to bounce back on Friday night, it has to start with their shot selection and their spacing offensively. Defensively, they did as well as they could have on KAT.