Clippers tame Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS – Power forward Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 12 boards to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a 96-90 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night.
Caron Butler had 19 points and Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who were challenged in the second quarter during two run-ins with Greg Stiemsma. Matt Barnes was ejected after the first one and Grant Hill was floored during the second. But the Clippers got physical and handed the Wolves their fifth straight loss.
Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had coach Rick Adelman on the sideline for the first time since January 5. Adelman missed the previous 11 games while his wife sought treatment for seizures. The Wolves went 2-9 in Adelman’s absence. But the downtrodden team played with much more confidence with their leader back on the bench.
J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved led an 8-2 burst that tied the game and Andrei Kirilenko’s transition layup gave Minnesota an 86-84 lead with four minutes to go. But the Clippers got a big 3-pointer from Butler and knocked the smaller Wolves to the court for several loose balls. Griffin muscled home a three-point play with 30 seconds to go to close the game out.
Barea had 14 points and Shved 12.
The Clippers entered the game having lost four of their last five and looking a little disjointed without star point guard Chris Paul, who is out with a knee injury.
Griffin has elevated his game in Paul’s absence, entering the night averaging 23.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and a staggering 6.8 assists in the last five games, picking up some of the playmaking slack left for arguably the game’s best point guard.
The Clippers looked a little groggy as they opened an eight-game road trip. They picked up a couple of defensive 3-second violations and a bevy of technical fouls to fall behind by as many 11 points in the second quarter. Barnes got things started in the second quarter when he tried to shove his way through a screen set by Stiemsma, then threw a forearm to Stiemsma’s throat.
Officials reviewed the play and gave Barnes a flagrant foul-2, which brings an automatic ejection. Moments later, Stiemsma flattened Hill when he went up for a rebound under the basket. Butler and Ronny Turiaf forcefully confronted Stiemsma, drawing technical fouls of their own.
Other scores last night: Kings 81, Celtics 99; Wizards 84, 76ers 92; Pistons 79, Pacers 98; Magic 97, Knicks 113; Raptors 92, Hawek 93; Heat 105, Nets 85; Bucks 104, Bucks 88; Bobcats 78, Spurs 102; Rockets 110, Nuggets 118; Hornets 99, Jazz 104; Lakers 86, Sun 92.