The Minnesota Timberwolves were able to rebound from a road loss by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend, and they’ll try for a repeat performance when they visit the Clippers on Wednesday. The Timberwolves, who exchanged wins and losses over their last nine games, topped Los Angeles 112-106 at home before dropping a three-point decision at Memphis on Monday.
“Our defense in the first half hurt us badly,” coach Tom Thibodeau told the media after the loss. “I thought it was a little better in the second half. We didn’t come up with any loose balls at the end, and that could have separated the game.” Jimmy Butler was a force down the stretch against the Clippers and stayed hot in Memphis with 30 points, while leading scorer Karl-Anthony Towns was held to seven in 38 minutes. Los Angeles has lost all three of its games since losing star forward Blake Griffin to a knee injury, but at least the banged-up squad has enjoyed some time off with no game action since Sunday’s loss to Minnesota. Forward Danilo Gallinari, who has missed 13 straight games with a hip issue, could return for this one, while point guard Milos Teodosic (foot) has been practicing with the team’s G-League affiliate.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN North (Minnesota), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (14-11): Thibodeau continues to give his starters heavy minutes, utilizing just three reserves in each of the last two games. Forward Andrew Wiggins entered Tuesday fourth in the NBA in playing time (36.9), while Butler was tied for sixth (36.7), Towns was 19th (34.6) and point guard Jeff Teague 28th (33.9). A favorable stretch for any fatigued players is on the horizon, as Minnesota has three days off after the game in Los Angeles and then opens a five-game homestand Sunday night against Dallas.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (8-14): Los Angeles is 3-10 without Gallinari, who knows that a sense of urgency has developed around the locker room and hopes that he has no issues adjusting to game action without Griffin on the floor. “Hopefully not a long time (to adjust), we need to win games right away, right now,” Gallinari told reporters at practice Tuesday. “To not have Blake is different, but we need to find ways to win games.” Center DeAndre Jordan is doing all he can to fill the void and is averaging 15.5 points on 14-of-15 shooting and 14.5 rebounds over the last two games.
1. Clippers SG Austin Rivers had a season-high 30 points while tying a career high with seven 3-pointers in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota.
2. Wiggins averages 20.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 36.8 minutes on the road, compared to 17 points, 3.4 boards and 37.2 minutes at home.
3. Timberwolves F Nemanja Bjelica (foot) has missed seven straight games but is expected to be with the team in Los Angeles.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 109, Clippers 108