Timberwolves fall to Clippers 89-88 for second home loss in a row

Chris Hine, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

MINNEAPOLIS — For those who rue the fact that defense has left the NBA and scoring has gotten out of control, Sunday's game between the Timberwolves and Clippers was for you.

Depending on your perspective, an intense defensive struggle or offensive brickfest broke out, with every basket feeling more and more precious as the game got later.

The Clippers came away with their first victory of the season over the Timberwolves, winning 89-88 after the Wolves squandered a great start to the game and lost at home for the second time in a row.

In a tight game down the stretch, the Wolves tied it 84-84 when Rudy Gobert grabbed an offensive rebound and hit Jaden McDaniels for a dunk with 2 minutes, 15 seconds to play. A Kawhi Leonard backdoor cut on Karl-Anthony Towns gave the Clippers a three-point play for a three-point lead that the Wolves cut to 87-86 on a Towns dunk. Anthony Edwards missed a three that would have given the Wolves the lead and then Towns came up empty on a runner with 19 seconds to play.

Leonard hit two free throws with 13.1 seconds to play to make it an 89-86 game. Edwards took almost 10 seconds off the clock to score a layup for the Wolves on their next possession and then the Clippers were able to run out the clock. The Wolves never got a chance to take a shot to tie.

Edwards finished with 27 points while Towns had 18, only six after a 5-for-5 first quarter.

Leonard had 32 points for the Clippers while Normal Powell contributed 24 off the bench and had a big impact on the game early when the Wolves threatened to blow it open. The Wolves had 15 turnovers.


The Wolves have had some of their worst starts of the season the last few games, but that wasn't the case Sunday, even with the afternoon start time, which can throw players out of rhythm.

The Wolves began the game up 9-0 and the Clippers called timeout before they even scored. The Wolves extended that lead to as much as 16 in the early going by hitting 7 of their first 8 shots. Towns was 5-for-5 from the field for 12 points in the first quarter.

The Wolves almost limited the Clippers to just 29% in the quarter. But the Clippers got back in it once Normal Powell checked into the game. Powell checked in and immediately hit his two threes, prompting an angry Finch to call timeout with the Wolves ahead 23-13. But Powell wasn't done.

As the Wolves struggled to score to open the second quarter, Powell kept scoring as he led a 16-2 Clippers run that gave them their first lead of the game at 31-30. Offense was hard to come by for the Wolves, who had more turnovers (eight) than made field goals (six). Their defense helped keep them in it despite the offensive slump, but the Clippers were able to take a 49-46 lead into the locker room thanks to Powell's 14 first-half points and Leonard's 15. Edwards had 17 at the break for the Wolves while Towns didn't score in the second quarter.

The defenses still held sway over the game in the third, as neither team shot better than 32% for the quarter and they combined to hit just one three, a Powell buzzer beater. Leonard had nine of the Clippers' 18 points in the quarter while Edwards eight of the Wolves' 22. The Wolves carried a 68-67 lead into the fourth.

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