Clippers sink Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin and three other injured teammates didn’t play Monday night in Minneapolis, so unsung point guard Darren Collison simply stepped forth and helped deliver a 114-104 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Collison started beside All-Star point guard Chris Paul in the same backcourt for the 13th time this season and the Clippers now are 12-1 in those games after they overwhelmed the Wolves with a decisive 34-15 third quarter.
Collison scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in that third quarter alone and reserve forward Jared Dudley scored 10 of his 16 points then, too.
A former UCLA guard playing against former collegiate teammate Kevin Love, Collison made 7 of 8 third-quarter shots — including both 3-pointers he attempted in the quarter — after he went just 1-for-6 and scored only five points in the first half.
By then, the Clippers had managed a 54-51 lead at halftime before their game-changing third quarter.
The Clippers’ victory was their ninth consecutive over the Wolves and they won without Griffin, who was a late scratch because of back spasms that limited him to just six minutes Saturday at Houston as well as sixth-man of the year candidate Jamal Crawford, guard J.J. Redick and forward Danny Granger.
Love led the Minnesota with 20 points and 13 rebounds before he and the Wolves starters sat out the fourth quarter.
Paul had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds after he had reached 30 points in consecutive games.
The Clippers turned a 59-57 deficit quickly into a 13-point lead with a 34-7 run midway through the third quarter that all but won for them no matter how shorthanded.
The Clippers led 16-10 early in a first quarter when Clippers starting center DeAndre Jordan grabbed 12 rebounds, the most he has ever had in a single quarter. His 24 rebounds were the most by an opponent against the Wolves this season and a career high as well.
The Wolves pushed back and tied the game at 20 late in the first quarter before their reserves used a 21-9 run midway through the second quarter to take a 43-37 lead with 4:25 left before halftime.
The Wolves made a fourth-quarter comeback attempt, their reserves knocking a 24-point Clippers’ lead to 106-98 with 1:30 left while coach Rick Adelman sat his starters out for the night.
But Collison corralled an offensive rebound and when the Wolves were forced to foul, he made two free throws to push the Clippers’ lead back to double digits in the final minute. The Wolves never got closer than eight points again.
The Wolves starters made just 17 of 52 field-goal attempts Monday, or 32.7 percent.
Notes: Wolves C Nikola Pekovic played seven minutes Monday but no more because of a sore right ankle that has bothered him since January. He played two games and part of Monday’s after he had missed six games because of it. ... Clippers All-Star F Blake Griffin did not play Monday because of back spasms that limited him to just six minutes in Saturday’s victory at Houston. Sixth man Jamal Crawford also didn’t play because of a sore Achilles tendon caused by a calf injury that caused him to miss eight of nine games earlier in March. Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he’ll consider resting Crawford for an extended period to let Crawford’s heal. G J.J. Redick (lower back) and F Danny Granger (hamstring) also didn’t play and neither did Wolves backup C Ronny Turiaf (bone knee bruise). ... Wolves star F Kevin Love started and played regularly Monday after he cited exhaustion following Sunday’s loss at Brooklyn for a rare 14-point game that included just two points after halftime. ... Iowa coach Fran McCaffery and teenage son Patrick attended the Clippers’ morning shootaround and Monday’s games as guests of Clippers All-Star Chris Paul and coach Doc Rivers. Patrick, 14, had a malignant tumor on his thyroid removed two weeks ago and Paul reached out by phone to him both before and after the operation. On Monday, father and son made the 4.5-hour trip from Iowa City and at Rivers’ invitation spent some time on the floor with the team at shootaround. ... Wolves coach Rick Adelman hugged and patted Clippers F Hedo Turkoglu during the break between first and second quarters. Adelman coached Turkoglu in his first four NBA seasons in Sacramento.