Playing nine games in 14 days presumably is a taxing ordeal, but these Clippers are pushing through all the boundaries in front of them.
They ignored their weary bodies to pull out a 119-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night at the Target Center to extend their franchise- and NBA-best start to 9-1.
The Clippers were coming off a stirring victory at Oklahoma City Friday night, playing their fourth game of the week, and this was on the heels of playing five games in seven days the week before.
“In the shower, I was thinking about that,” Blake Griffin said after scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. “These last two were tough. I’m like physically tired, you know? But 9-1 is as good stretch.”
All five of the Clippers’ starters scored in double figures, even surviving the Hack-A-Jordan the Timberwolves used in the fourth quarter.
DeAndre Jordan had entered the game making only 39% of his free throws, but he looked comfortable at the line Saturday, at least for him.
The big center made 10 of 16 from the line in the final 5:43 of the game that slowed to a crawl.
Jordan finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Griffin’s night included him becoming the fastest player to have at least 9,000 points, 4,000 rebounds and 1,500 assists since Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who did it in 398 games. Griffin did so in 420 games over his seven-year career.
J.J. Redick had 18 points on seven-for-13 shooting.
Chris Paul had 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds. He was four for seven from the field, three for four from three-point range.
When the Clippers opened a 19-point lead, it looked as if the starters would get the rest of the night off to rest.
But the Clippers’ reserves, who entered the game ranked fifth in the league in bench scoring (39.9 points per game), had a rare off night and couldn’t maintain the advantage.
Still, that didn’t stop the Clippers from winning their sixth consecutive game under tough circumstances.
They have already played three sets of back-to-back games during the first three weeks of the regular season.
And still the Clippers rolled behind a defense that has continued to not give up much and behind an offense that kept striking against the Timberwolves.
The Clippers gave up 105 points, but most of that was because the Clippers eased up as the game got out of hand. Los Angeles held Minnesota to 44.9% shooting.
Karl-Anthony Towns, last year’s No. 1 pick, had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins had 22 points and Zach LaVine had 15 points.
“We talked about it last night after the Oklahoma City. I don’t know if you want to call it a trap game,” Griffin said. “But coming in after a back-to-back, ninth game in 14 days, playing a young team that’s on two days’ rest, plays well at home…I don’t know if it is one of those, but it could have potentially been. I just like the way we grinded it out.”
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner