CP3, Clippers win 4th straight, 99-79 over Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) With a showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder looming on Thursday, the Los Angeles Clippers didn't want to mess around and expend too much energy against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
That his young Timberwolves provided so little resistance to the Clippers' get-in-and-get-out approach left coach Sam Mitchell fuming in the end.
Chris Paul had 20 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds, and the Clippers bullied the Timberwolves in a 99-79 victory on Wednesday night.
''He's just an incredible player. He has a great feel for the game,'' Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Paul, who sat the fourth quarter for the fourth straight game. ''He knew, like in that third quarter, that we needed to stretch it a bit. I thought he was really pushing the guys offensively. He's engaged.''
Los Angeles never trailed in the game and led by as many as 33 early in the fourth quarter.
J.J. Redick scored 17 points and DeAndre Jordan had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks as they gear up for Blake Griffin's return on Sunday. The Clippers held Minnesota to 34.5 percent shooting and only turned the ball over seven times.
''It's been a tough season for all of us not knowing who is going to play on a nightly basis,'' Paul said. ''Finding our rhythm now and sitting these fourth quarters has been great.''
Karl-Anthony Towns had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have been humming along with one of the league's best offenses since the All-Star break until they hit the Clippers wall. Andrew Wiggins had just seven points and six turnovers and left the game midway through the third quarter with a lacerated chin.
Mitchell blasted the team in a 31-second rant after the game and left without taking questions. He called it the worst game of the season and said some on the 25-50 team believe they are further along than they really are.
''He can say what he wants, but it just wasn't a very good game for us,'' said Zach LaVine, who was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting. ''Our offense was stagnant. We didn't make a lot of shots. We weren't physical and they were just playing better than us.''
Griffin is set to return on Sunday after missing every game since Christmas because of a quadriceps injury and a four-game suspension for punching an assistant equipment manager.
The Clippers squeezed the life out of the Wolves in the first half, shutting off the passing lanes, swatting away shots at the rim and allowing few clean looks from the perimeter. Ricky Rubio, LaVine and Gorgui Dieng combined to miss their first 15 shots, Wiggins started 2 for 7 and the Wolves shot just 27.3 percent and managed 34 points in the first 24 minutes.
Towns was the only Wolves players to have any success. He hit his first three shots, including two 3s, but grew frustrated with Jordan's physical brand of defense and picked up a technical foul with 4 minutes to play in the half. Mitchell sat his star rookie for the rest of the half to let him cool off.
For the first time all season, Mitchell stepped to the dais and did not ask for questions to start.
''Worst game; didn't set screens, didn't pass the ball,'' he said. ''I didn't even recognize us at the start of the game.
''Like I told them, I wish (the media) would stop asking me questions about how good they can be. We have 25 wins. They still have to learn how to play basketball. They still got to grow up. They still got to understand, they played a team that's a real playoff team tonight. You saw what happened.
''We're not ready yet. So I wish they would stop reading the newspapers, stop talking to their friends because we're not good enough to just show up and play. That was the worst game we've played all year.''
Clippers: F Paul Pierce did not make the trip for the two games because of a sprained right ankle. ... In a schedule quirk, this was the start of the fourth straight set of back-to-backs for the Clippers, who have played two in a row following two days off for each of those sets. ... Former Timberwolves lottery pick Wesley Johnson had two blocks.
Timberwolves: Wiggins left the game midway through the third quarter after taking a shot to the face. He was dubbed questionable to return, but the blowout took care of that. ... Towns was the only starter in double figures.
Clippers: Visit Oklahoma City on Thursday.
Timberwolves: Visit Utah on Friday.