Getting healthier at guard, but playing without a sick Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves hosted the Los Angeles Clippers in a game as close to must-win as one might imagine at this point in the season.
And so, with a tweaked starting lineup that included both Dario Saric and Luol Deng, the Wolves went out and did just enough in a 130-120 victory.
Using a monster 33-5 run that ran from late in the second quarter until midway through the second, the Wolves seemingly took control of the game, ultimately going up 23 points with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
The Clippers responded with a run that pulled them within 119-115 with 4 minutes left.
But, out of a timeout, the Wolves scored six straight to take control for good.
It was important because the Clippers are currently the eighth seed in the West, holding the conference’s last playoff spot. A loss would have put the Wolves six games back from the final playoff spot in the conference with 26 games to go. As it is, that gap is now four games.
This despite an amazing, off-the-bench, 45-point performance by the Clippers’ Lou Williams, who was trying to give the Clippers (21-27)their second comeback from 20 or more points down in their just-concluded five-game road trip.
Karl-Anthony Towns, again battling foul trouble again, scored 24 points with 10 rebounds. He scored on consecutive possessions out of that time out as the Wolves (26-30) regained control of the game, ending a three-game losing streak.
Jeff Teague scored 18 points with 10 assists. Dario Saric had 19 and Dieng, making just his second start in two seasons, scored 12 points with nine rebounds. Derrick Rose scored 22 off the bench.
The Wolves scored a season-high 33 points off the Clippers’ 21 turnovers.
Rose and Jerryd Bayless were both back from injury and Teague was in his second game back.
Coach Ryan Saunders went with a starting lineup of Teague, Towns, Josh Okogie with Saric and Deng. It was Saric’s second start of the season, Deng’s first.
At first, it didn’t go well, with the Clippers jumping to an 8-0 lead and Sarich picking up two quick fouls, sending him to the bench for Taj Gibson. Gibson proceeded to score 10 points over the next 10 minutes to lead the Wolves, who immediately went on a 19-5 run to take a 19-13 lead on Gibson’s basket with 4:20 left in the first quarter. The Wolves took a 29-25 lead into the second quarter.
The Clippers opened the second quarter on a 27-16 run to take a 52-45 lead on Gallinari’s free throw after Bayless was called for a technical.
But, over the final 3:54 of the quarter the Wolves went on an 18-3 run, one fueled by Clippers turnovers. Rose had six in that span, including a twisting layup at the end of the half. Deng had two steals and end-to-end drives and Towns had four points.
By the time the half ended the Wolves had scored 26 points off 14 Clippers turnovers. They had a 26-4 edge …read more
Source:: Daily times