The L.A. Clippers (8-4) avoided another slow start and actually came out with the right kind of intensity and energy as they powered past the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves (4-8), 129-102 on Saturday night.
Through most of the first quarter, the Wolves matched the Clippers energy. They had the game all tied up at 24 until the Clippers used an 8-2 run to open up a 32-26 lead at the end of the quarter.
If the Clippers were locked in, in the first quarter, then they were on another level in the second quarter. A great defensive effort as well as an explosive offensive attack helped the Clippers open up a 70-43 lead at halftime.
During the recent win streak, the Clippers have become less reliant on Paul George’s offensive outbursts. The rest of the team has settled in and become more comfortable in the offense to where the team doesn’t need George to have to do so much on the offensive end.
The second quarter followed right along those lines with George only scoring nine points as the Clippers were comfortably ahead.
A big part of the Clippers improved play can be attributed to the reemergence of Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe. The Clippers backcourt put on quite a display in the first half, combining for 30 points and 10 assists.
Bledsoe was solid directing the offense, attacking the rim and knocking down a couple of threes and finding the open man. Jackson was aggressive in looking for his shot and finishing in traffic. Bledsoe finished with 14 points, five rebounds and nine assists while Jackson had 21 points and four assists.
In the second half, the Wolves never mounted any sort of a challenge and by the fourth quarter both Amir Coffey and Jay Scrubb were getting major minutes. George got himself into a nice rhythm in the third quarter scoring 14 of his 23 points in the period and sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
- The Clippers held Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns to only eight points, his lowest scoring total since October 17, 2018 when he had eight points in the season opener against the San Antonio Spurs. After the game, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue credited the defensive effort from Nicolas Batum for accomplishing that feat. The Clippers defense as a whole was solid throughout the game, holding Minnesota to only 39.2 percent shooting.
- Justice Winslow got some extended minutes and played well. Ty Lue mentioned wanting to increase the rotation with a back-to-back on Sunday evening and Winslow was a beneficiary of that. He played well defensively, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out four assists.
- Isaiah Hartenstein had one of his best games of the season. He’s been a solid presence off the bench so far, but he was very active all game finishing in the paint, showing off his playmaking ability, and he even knocked down a three. He finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.