Before this game started, LA Clippers head coach Ty Lue expressed some concerns about facing the Minnesota Timberwolves for the third time in just a couple of weeks. Coach Lue said that when this happens, teams can start to figure out one another's tendencies, which makes rattling off three-straight wins against the same opponent a tall task.
While coach Lue's concerns were valid, his team had absolutely no trouble with the Timberwolves for the third straight game. Beating Minnesota 129-102 in this one, the Clippers have clinched the season series over their Western Conference foe.
This game felt over at halftime, with the Clippers bringing a 27-point lead into the break. On the front end of a back to back, the Clippers were able to put this one away by the end of the third quarter, and rest their usual starters for the entirety of the final frame.
While he played just three quarters before taking the rest of the night off, Paul George still put up 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists on 10/17 shooting. George also got some solid contributions from Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe, with Reggie putting up 21 points on 9/16 shooting, and Bledsoe adding 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists.
When asked postgame about the play of Paul George, Clippers' big man Isaiah Hartenstein said, "I’ve played with a lot of MVP’s. James, Jokic, Russ. Paul George is definitely on that level." George currently sits at 4th on the NBA's MVP ladder, but only seems to be climbing.
While all of the aforementioned players were fantastic, much of the credit for this win, and the other two against Minnesota, goes to Ivica Zubac. Zubac had 10 points and 12 rebounds in this game, but it was his defense that stole the show. After a shaky start to the season on both ends, Zubac has shown in these three contests against Minnesota why his defense is so valuable. Karl Anthony-Towns was held to just 8 points in this contest, and is averaging just 15.3 PPG in three matchups with the Clippers. Much of that is due to the defensive ability of Zubac.
The Clippers once again got some solid contributions from their bench in this win. Terance Mann finished with 16 points, Isaiah Hartenstein added 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Luke Kennard added 9 points of his own while being a game-high +32. Kennard is now 3rd in the NBA in total plus/minus, with his +121 mark trailing only Steph Curry and his Warriors teammate Nemanja Bjelica.
As previously mentioned, the Clippers will have to suit back up on Sunday evening for a matchup with the Chicago Bulls. The team will be looking for their 8th straight win, and potentially sole possession of the 3rd-seed out West.