Just when it looked like the Clippers were going to barely limp into the playoffs and exit in the fist round, they’ve picked up some momentum and are enjoying their first three-game win streak since late February. The Clippers coasted tonight, to an extent, but it didn’t matter, as their talent alone was too much for the injury-riddled Timberwolves to handle. I said “to an extent” because the Clippers went on massive runs at the end of the second (18-9 run) and third (16-4 run) quarters to put the game out of reach twice. That’s the upside with this team — they can go on brilliant spurts and put away any opponent. There are four games remaining. The Clippers control their destiny — win out and enjoy the four-seed (at worst). This is fun. Onto Last Call:
Los Angeles Clippers
Recap | Box score
MVP: Chris Paul & Blake Griffin (tie). Both controlling the tempo, boards and flow of the game, Paul and Griffin put up near identical numbers in three quarters of play. That’s a 6’0″ point guard and 6’10” power forward both with near triple doubles. Symmetry.
Defining moment: The Clippers went on a binge in the final 3 minutes of the second and third quarter, going on 13-4 and 12-2 runs respectively. Minnesota just couldn’t stay with the Clippers’ firepower.
Well that was… expected. Ravaged by injury, the Timberwolves haven’t been very good this season. The Clippers took care of business like a team with aspirations beyond just taking things one game at a time. And all five Los Angeles starters scored in double figures to show just how well-balanced that focus was.
– Andrew Han
Tweet of the Game
The Clippers just ran the Wedge set successfully, getting Griffin the mismatch. Might be a first in 2012-13.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) April 11, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
I discuss my post-game interaction with Nikola Pekovic, a fellow Serbian, about our homeland. I somehow survived, but may or may not be missing a leg.
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Flipping the Hollywood Script
Let’s say you and I were having a conversation back in the fall of 2011, before the lockout was resolved. Let’s say that I looked 18 months into the future, and told you that the last week of the 2012-2013 season would feature a night with the two LA teams fighting for playoff position. One of the teams would win their game after leading wire-to-wire, securing their 52nd win of the season, and maintaining control of their own destiny in the fight for home-court advantage in Round 1. The other team would need a super-human effort from their superstar to narrowly escape a game against a lottery team starting four rookies that night. That win would put them a game up in the race for the 8th and final playoff spot.
You, like any other reasonable human being, would assume that the team coasting to their 52nd win would be the Lakers, and the team clinging to their playoff lives would be the Clippers. Why? Well, because the Lakers are the Lakers and the Clippers are the Clippers.
Over the last year and a half, though, that whole idea has been flipped upside down. The Clippers are decidedly the better basketball team. Their 11-game lead in the standings, their Pacific division title, and their 4-0 record over their cross-hallway rivals all say so. It’s a rather weird reality to accept as an NBA fan – even the most anti-sentimental, statistically-minded hoops fans live with some assumption that the Lakers will always have the upper hand against the Clippers. This year, the Clippers are showing, as the great Kevin Garnett once said, anything is possible.
– Jeremy Conlin
A few weeks ago, this game would have been referred to as “fool’s gold”. Around every corner was a contending team and the Clippers were, more often than not, showing up guns drawn and getting the better of these elite opponents. Now, no such distinction is made. It’s not that beating a playoff team wouldn’t have inspired more confidence than beating these lowly Timberwolves — it would have. Rather, there’s only four games left before the playoffs and what matters going into the postseason on a roll.
Other than a virtuoso performance from Chris Paul, the Clippers didn’t play all that much better than what’s come to be expected during their pedestrian 19-17 performance since the streak. But someone managed to step up whenever a bucket or a stop was needed. The execution wasn’t perfect, but whenever the Timberwolves got within a possession or two, there was always someone to widen the gap or keep Minnesota from getting any closer.
Through the first 36 games of the season (during which the Clippers went 28-8), each win and loss came at least in a pair — in other words, the Clippers get in grooves and they get in funks. I just hope the tune stays fresh until April 21st.
– Michael Shagrin
In the middle of the third quarter, things were on the brink of collapse for the Clippers: offensive fouls, turnovers, defensive lapses. So it was only fitting that when they needed him most, Chris Paul took over. At a pivotal moment, Paul ventured into the paint in search of a defensive rebound. What happened next was improbable: Paul stripped the ball from the massive hands of Nicola Pekovic—perhaps the NBA’s most intimidating specimen. It was as though a child had strayed from his family’s campsite, discovered a grizzly bear, charged it, and ripped a salmon from its clutches.
Paul went into beast mode, and after that the rest of the team followed his lead.
– Patrick James