With 5:03 left in the game, Minnesota's perimeter defense went to sleep and Sam Cassell hit an open 24-footer from beyond the arc to give the Clippers a 94-85 lead.
From that point, the T-Wolves went on a 19-2 run, a streak that was the result of some of the worst Clippers defense we've seen in two years:
- The T-Wolves come down and dump it into KG in the post. Sam darts over from the perimeter to double. With the T-Wolves spreading James, Foye and Marko along the arc, Jaric cuts to the right corner, taking Maggette with him. This leaves Ross along with both James and Foye, and Q is sort of stranded in between. There isn't much of a lapse here - don't you want Foye [a career 2-11 shooter from beyond] to take that shot if it means you can double KG? Even if he hit one earlier, I say yeah.
Having said that, credit the T-Wolves for a well-run set. By having Marko cut down the right corner, they created a one-guy-to-guard-two situation out on the perimeter.
Clippers 94, Minnesota 88
- Cassell comes down, pulls up with :17 left in the shot clock with James in his face and misses the 17-footer.
- The T-Wolves come down, have a sloppy possession resulting from a crappy entry pass to KG in the post. The ball bounces off everyone's hands and finally makes its way to Foye, trapped along the sideline. Foye makes a nice crosscourt pass to an open Ricky Davis. The Clippers are all over the place, disoriented from the scrum just seconds earlier; they're not set at all. As Maggette closes on him, Davis dishes the ball over to a wide open Marko, who hits the 3.
Clippers 94, Minnesota 91
- Cassell comes down the left side, feels like he can take Davis off the dribble, then curls left along the baseline into Garnett, then Marko. Cassell throws up a wild reverse. Not close. He battles for the rebound and gets it. Sam can't get the putback to fall, and ultimately gets called for a foul underneath.
- Garnett makes 1 of 2.
Clippers 94, Minnesota 92
- Cassell brings it up and at :11 gets a down screen from EB. Sam dribbles it over to the right corner [nice show by Blount] with his head down. He doesn't see Elton, who just cut underneath the basket. Sam heaves up a 17-footer. No good.
- The Clippers have settled into a zone. So what do the T-Wolves do? They have Blount come up top [Remember, Aaron Williams is guarding the basket], Foye drives down the lane, but just before he encounters Williams underneath, he dishes it back to a wide open Blount at twenty feet. Hell, if Blount didn't have it, there's nobody in the 612 anywhere near Marko.
Clippers 94, Minnesota 94
- Cassell dumps it into Corey on the right elbow. Corey has Marko one-on-one and is just dying to penetrate. This isn't a bad instinct at all. But before he can make his first step, he loses the ball.
- Foye gets it up top with :16 left. He dribbles across the backcourt, then leaves it for Blount at about 20 feet. Now Blount is in the Clips' heads because he just sunk one from there. The Clips aren't going to fuck around. They send Q immediately at him - and I don't have a problem with that, because if the dude is hitting, then the Clips really should get in his kitchen. But why the hell is Williams leaving his zone under the basket? I mean, he sees KG cutting right there and he still leaves. Look, Aaron: Q is on it. There's this guy named Kevin Garnett you may want to attend to, you know?
Well, Blount didn't just fall off the turnip truck. He ain't nobody's fool. He's been around the block and has been to the circus. Did I mention that he''s long in the tooth? So he fakes the shot and hits KG for an uncontested layup.
Minnesota 96, Clippers 94
- With :10 on the shot clock, Sam delivers it to EB on the right elbow with Blount on him. Elton looks at Maggette who doesn't quite have position on Marko down low. It's a pick 'em. You could probably make the entry pass, but I suspect Foye would close pretty quickly. Denied the face-up jumper, EB decides to take Blount off the dribble over to the left side. He finds the face-up jumper over there, but Monsieur Garnett blocks it. With authority. But there by the grace of [insert your deity or favorite philosopher here], it gets back to Elton at about 16 feet. He misses that one, too.
- Randy Foye is going to be goooood. He's already unselfish. Case in point: The T-Wolves work it into KG on the left block, but there's really nothing there - at least nothing good. So he sends it back out to Foye, who breezes past a late Mobley [in defense, this wasn't a brainfart, per se]. Maggette has gone to double KG [as he should], while Cat is on Davis over in the right corner. Now, Corey has his back turned as Foye penetrates. But, whatever, because Foye has the presence of mind to hit Blount underneath, who is open because Williams had to come into the lane to get between the driving Foye and the basket. But nobody has Blount. All Williams can do after the pass is foul Blount. Blount hits both.
Minnesota 98, Clippers 94
- Corey holds it on the left wing. He looks for EB, but Elton is doubled in the right post. Williams is wide open underneath, but it would be a dangerous pass by Maggette. EB steps out of the post to lose the double-team and he and Corey play a little give 'n' go. Corey gets it back from EB as he cuts to the left corner. Maggette has a good look, but misses the 16-footer.
- Sam and Elton trap Foye who, somehow, is way in the backcourt. Williams is guarding the basket, so Blount steps out and creates some space for himself at around 17 feet. Foye finds him, but Blount misses the shot.
Now here's my beef with Dunleavy and his goddam perimeter traps. Because Elton is out on the perimeter, who's underneath to rebound other than Williams, who has had to step out on Blount? Answer: Sam Cassell. And Marko Jaric is going to win that battle virtually every time. He comes down with the rock and summarily gets fouled. Marko hits both.
Minnesota 100, Clippers 94
- The Clips do what they're supposed to do here: They get it into EB in the left post one-on-one against Blount. Elton steps back for the face-up 12-footer. No good. Rebound Cat, who puts it back, up and in.
Minnesota 100, Clippers 96
- Hey, it's 1987! The T-Wolves clear out and run an isolation play for Foye on the left side against Cassell. He murders Sam off the dribble for an easy layup. TT can't get there fast enough.
Minnesota 102, Clippers 96
And that's about it.
It's a real shame because I had all these nice things to say about the offense, Elton in particular. How, for the first time this year, it seemed like he was demanding the ball. How I like Corey coming off the bench because he needs to be the focal point of the offense, and playing with the second unit affords him that opportunity.
Instead, we're left with a finish in which Minnesota scored every time downcourt until a shot with :13 seconds left. Every time.