The new day-after NBA reports on referee calls in the final two minutes of close games could generate some strong reactions from the Clippers.
Oh, goody probably won’t be among them.
The severely short-handed Clippers came out on the wrong end of two controversial sequences but persevered Monday night for a 110-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
“It was the wildest two minutes we’ve had in a while,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick was ejected with 1 minute 6 seconds left after picking up two technical fouls for engaging a referee about Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders’ venturing onto the court.
The Timberwolves then had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds after being awarded the ball even though point guard Ricky Rubio appeared to have stepped out of bounds before he could call a timeout.
But Gary Neal missed a three-point attempt with 10.9 seconds to go and the Clippers’ Dahntay Jones made two free throws to preserve his team’s third consecutive victory, wrapping up a trip on which it went 3-1.
“Being on the road for six days, it was a great win for us,” Redick said. “It might have been the best win of the trip.”
The Clippers started the game without Blake Griffin (elbow) and Matt Barnes (hamstring) and ended it without Redick and sixth man Jamal Crawford, who sustained a bruised right calf in the second quarter and did not play after halftime.
They got contributions from nearly every remaining player during a zany game in which they lost an 18-point lead in the first half before rallying from a seven-point deficit.
Forward-center Spencer Hawes shrugged off his season-long shooting slump to make a corner three-pointer that gave the Clippers a 105-101 lead. Point guard Chris Paul (26 points, 14 assists) somehow elevated the ball over the outstretched arm of Kevin Garnett to bury a 19-foot jumper that made it 108-103 with 38 seconds left.
Center DeAndre Jordan finished with 18 rebounds and 12 points, his franchise-record ninth consecutive game with at least 15 rebounds.
Rubio had a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Timberwolves, who were missing starters Kevin Martin (flu) and Nikola Pekovic (ankle).
The Clippers reserves filled in capably for their starting counterparts.
Jordan Hamilton, replacing Barnes at small forward, scored 10 points in his first start as a Clipper. Forward Glen Davis had a season-high 12 points to go with three rebounds, two steals, two assist and one block.
Austin Rivers scored 13 points, played solid defense on rookie sensation Andrew Wiggins in the second half and survived a run-in with Garnett late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a technical foul on each player.
Rivers bumped Garnett while walking to a timeout huddle with 3:23 left, prompting Garnett to nudge Rivers and point at him.
Rivers said afterward that Garnett had elbowed him earlier in the game, leading to a red welt on his forehead, and hit him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. So did Rivers — whose father Doc used to coach Garnett with the Boston Celtics — intentionally bump Garnett on his way to the bench?
“I was walking to my bench and he was in my way and I wasn’t moving,” Rivers said.
Redick also was unyielding about his role in the dust-up with Saunders. Redick said he had asked referees to intervene after Saunders walked on the court during a dead ball.
“I’m not sure why he was out on the court, but he was yelling and stuff, so I said to the ref, ‘Man, get him off the court,’” Redick said. “And Flip turned to me and said, ‘Man, shut the . . . up.’ And he said it like three times. And I just walked to my spot and I got a double technical for that.
“So I shouldn’t have kept talking, but all I said to [referee] Josh [Tiven] was, ‘I’m going to get my money back’ and he threw me out for that. If I’m going to get thrown out, man, at least let me say some stuff.”
The Clippers ended up with the final say on the scoreboard, the only place that mattered.