Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Early on, Chris Paul had his way with the Timberwolves. Paul had 10 points and 8 assists … in the first quarter. Paul hung on for 37 more minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, finishing with game highs of 26 points, 14 assists, and 3 steals.
That was … short-handed: The Clippers entered this game with Blake Griffin still on the shelf and Matt Barnes sitting out due to a hamstring injury. By the end of the night, Jamal Crawford was out for the second half due to his troublesome calf, while J.J. Redick was ejected. Not that the Clippers will get any sympathy from the Timberwolves, nor should they. Starters Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic were unable to go tonight, and while Redick played a game-high 44 minutes for the Clippers, the Timberwolves had four of their five starters playing at least 39 minutes tonight. Perhaps that was a factor in their 1-for-14 fourth quarter shooting from the field, the worst the NBA has seen all season.
X factor: Due to Barnes’ injury, Jordan Hamilton started a game for the first time in almost exactly one year; his last start came on March 1, 2014 as a member of the Houston Rockets. Hamilton hit a couple of threes and scored ten points in 26 minutes. Considering Barnes’ season averages of 9.6 points per game and 1.6 threes per game, the Clippers have to be satisfied with his output.
— Law Murray
Tweets Of The Game
— NBA On Def Pen (@NBAOnDefPen) March 3, 2015
We wanna talk about how CP3 has been balling or nah?
— Tunde SMD (@ProducerTD) March 3, 2015
Matt Barnes to JJ Redick: "They're calling you the new Matt Barnes. Someone had to hold it down while I was out."
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 3, 2015
Kevin Garnett treating Austin Rivers like his son and demanding respect: https://t.co/QEv0J3G3TX
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) March 3, 2015
Check Your Messages
On Legs and Wings
Dahntay Jones, Jordan Hamilton, and Austin Rivers probably won’t be on the floor to close out many more nail biters alongside Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. With Jamal Crawford suffering from a right leg contusion and Matt Barnes sidelined with a hamstring, though, there aren’t too many options left for Doc to turn to. Sure, it increases the chances of Hamilton seeing another 10 days with the team, but also sheds light on the kind of reactionary moves that can happen when options are few.
While it’s easy to view these moves in a kneejerk capacity, the variation and opportunity given to others can be viewed as a chance for insight. Even back in Boston, it took an injury to Ray Allen for Doc Rivers to discover the value of Avery Bradley. A solid contribution from Jordan Hamilton tonight does not guarantee him the same fortune as AB, but watching him chase Wiggins around all night and find open spots to camp behind the arc certainly leads to thoughts if he’s exactly the type of wing that the Clippers should lock in to their future plans.
– Brandon Tomyoy
Tonight was the Clippers’ 15th game of the season that came on the second end of a back-to-back. Forget trap game – the Clippers are in a trap part of the season from a personnel standpoint. When you aren’t 100 percent, there are no gimme games. Not every team has packed it in, and teams will present unique challenges.
The Timberwolves may have the worst record in the Western Conference, but they have plenty of reasons to play hard. It took the Timberwolves about half a quarter to erase an 18-point first quarter deficit, Ricky Rubio messed around and had a triple-double, and they were a missed three away from tying this game late. The Timberwolves’ youth stressed Chris Paul and the Clippers out tonight, and elder statesman Kevin Garnett supplemented his citizenship with his usual brand of intensity.
But in the end, the Clippers won on the second night of a back-to-back for the 11th time this season – only the Atlanta Hawks have more wins in that category (12). But as the saying goes for the Clippers: there is no rest for the weary. In fact, they will see these same Timberwolves next Monday night – a day after going to NoCal to dance with the Warriors.
– Law Murray