Writing this, my heart has not stopped pounding, I don't think a Timberwolves game has got me THIS excited, in years! If you went to bed early, I pray you've got it on your DVR! The battle was fierce and once again--the Wolves didn't give up and persevered!
Let's just recap the final seconds, because my hands are still a little shaky! :) (I might be being a bit dramatic) With 20 seconds left in the game, Ricky Rubio found himself wide open for a corner three, right in front of the Clippers bench. He made just one field goal on the night--and it was that tying three-pointer with just 20 seconds to go.
Clippers ball, tied 98-all, 20 seconds to go, of course they're going to Mr. Big Shot: Chauncey Billups. With just 6 seconds to go, Billups drove the lane on Rubio and went for the layup, Rubio was able to just barely tip the ball and the shot rolled off, a tenacious rebound by Kevin Love--Rick Adelman called the timeout with 0.9 seconds to go. The refs added 0.6 more on the clock--for 1.5 to go--still tied at 98.
The final play, Kevin Love popped out to the arc and found himself wide-open, rose up and knocked it down as the buzzer sounded and the Wolves rolled out of the Staples Center with a 3-point W!
If Love doesn't get that extension by early next week (before of course the Jan. 25th deadline), you're going to have a lot of furious Wolves fans (and you can trust me, when I say, there's A LOT more of them this season!).
Surprisingly, Kevin Love didn't lead the Wolves in scoring! It was big man....Darko Milicic. We'll get to those stats in a moment however.
The Timberwolves mounted a comeback after Clippers reserve guard Mo Williams was ejected. Over the final 6:21 of the game, the Timberwolves went on a 16-9 run which was part of a 24-9 run to close the game.
The Clippers were without two starters: Chris Paul & Caron Butler. Paul out with a strained hamstring & Butler out with a hyperextended knee. The Wolves were without J.J. Barea who's missing this weekend's road trip with a sore ankle and of course, once again--Michael Beasley. Beyond the other three players (Lee, Webster, Miller) who haven't played this season.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's key players...
Darko! was tonight's high man--he went up against he League leader in blocks per game: DeAndre Jordan and took his one post move as well as a handful of two-hand jams all over the Clippers post defense--that lead to a Minnesota +22 advantage in points in the paint (46-24). Kevin Love was happy to oblige with a bit of that paint dominance--along with him, Nikola Pekovic who had 8pts all very close-in shots: 4-4 FG in 12 minutes off the bench. The Wolves' guards struggled a bit tonight, but the boost came from the big men and Darko & Pek were A LOT of fun to watch! For Ricky & Derrick Williams, they each had 9 points in the game--all 9 of which (for each) came in the fourth quarter.
For the Clippers, it was the opposite--the guards dominated. Williams & Billups led the way with two of the Clippers' top players out (Bulter & Paul). If Williams hadn't gotten ejected in the second half, his continued offense may have buried the Wolves permanently! Blake Griffin did outscore Love, but you've got to give the edge to Love--with that buzzer-beating, game-winner!
There were certainly a few things that caught my eye here. The first? The Clippers are averaging just 12 turnovers a game this season (an NBA low), however the Wolves were able to force them into 18--and grabbed 19 points off of them. For Minnesota--they turned the ball over just 11 times, but did allow the Clips to score 16 points. Obviously that has something to do with the Clippers being without their star point guard: Chris Paul--both on turning the ball over--and forcing turnovers! The second? The assist totals. Again, the Clippers without Chris Paul, 12 assists makes sense. The Wolves had a lot of better ball movement and had a +9 total. Lastly? The Timberwolves' +22 advantage in points in the paint. Blake Griffin did his damage inside, however DeAndre is clearly not a scoring center--of course, Darko usually isn't either! A lot of credit to Darko, Pek, Love & D-Will!
All right, I think I've recovered, it was an incredibly fun final quarter and I hope you stayed up late to catch it. I'll be posting some pictures tonight. I'll also be updating the stats & injury report pages tonight. Tomorrow we'll have some updates on the quotes page as well as a video recap/highlights and tomorrow's gameday preview vs. Utah. Thanks for reading HOWL! GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!