Clippers win back-and-forth game over Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — They say basketball is a game of runs, and nothing proved that more than the Los Angeles Clippers’ 102-98 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
In a game that swung wildly both ways, the Clippers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the second time in nine days. Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul made sure of that.
Paul scored 16 points in the fourth quarter as his 20-point, 11-assist performance broke Magic Johnson’s NBA record of 11 consecutive games with double-digit points and assists to start a season.
Paul made it 12-for-12 to start this season, scoring 12 consecutive points for the Clippers in one fourth-quarter stretch after he had scored just four points in the first three quarters.
Wolves shooting guard Kevin Martin bounced back from a 4-for-17 shooting night Tuesday in a loss at Washington by scoring a team-high 28 points Wednesday. But every time he tried to keep pace with Paul and the Clippers, Paul answered in a game that featured one run countered by another.
Just how much of a roller coaster was it?
The Clippers scored the first 12 points and the Wolves answered with a 14-4 burst.
In the second quarter, each team scored all of its points on unanswered bursts: The Clippers got 22 points on runs of 11-0, 4-0 and 7-0 while the Wolves scored their 22 with runs of 12-0 and 10-0.
It didn’t stop there.
Despite leading 12-0 to start the game, the Clippers found themselves tied at 24 after one quarter and at 46 at halftime before they used a 16-6 third-quarter burst to build a double-digit lead again late in the quarter.
Of course, it didn’t last.
The Wolves countered in the fourth quarter with two more runs of their own, 8-0 and 7-0.
Each time, Paul answered, pushing the Wolves away with a 3-pointer when they closed within 81-78 with less than six minutes remaining and then doing the same with a three-point play after Martin’s 3-pointer had pulled the Wolves within 86-85 with 3:51 left.
Before the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers marveled at how power forwards Blake Griffin and Kevin Love are so similar statistically and in their importance to their respective teams, but so different in how they go about getting there.
In the first half, both were uncharacteristically unproductive.
Griffin went 2-for-7 for the Clippers and scored just four points by halftime. Love started 2-for-10 for Minnesota and had seven points and four turnovers.
The difference was Griffin’s third quarter, when he scored 14 points by making all seven field goal attempts.
Griffin ended up 10 of 19 for 20 points and added 10 rebounds. Love shot 2 of 14 and finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
Notes: The Clippers played without reserve F Matt Barnes, who sustained an eye injury in Monday’s home loss to Memphis when he got struck by Grizzlies star Zach Randolph. ... Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad did not suit up for his fourth consecutive game because of a sprained ankle. He has played very little even when he has been healthy. ... The Clippers entered the game ranked first in the league in scoring (109.3 ppg), third in field-goal percentage (.478) and assists (25.8 per game) and eighth in steals (9.18). The Timberwolves ranked third in points with a 107.8 average. ... Timberwolves F Derrick Williams, a former No. 2 overall pick, was in for 11 minutes after he had played just three minutes in the last three games. ... Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has turned to rookie F Robbie Hummel as his top sub at small forward. “I’m just playing the people I think can win games,” Adelman said. “Nothing about Derrick.”