Danilo Gallinari’s return is not enough for Clippers to end skid
More support arrived for the Clippers on Wednesday night in the form of Danilo Gallinari, his return from a 13-game absence while recovering from a strained left glute giving them a much-needed healthy body.
But even Gallinari’s return couldn’t stop the Clippers from sliding into a four-game losing streak following a 113-107 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.
Gallinari had been out four-plus weeks with his injury and it showed during his restricted playing time of 26 minutes.
His timing clearly was off, showing in two-for-13 shooting from the field and one-for-five shooting from three-point range, leaving him with seven points.
“I wanted to be better,” said Gallinari, who missed all six of his shots in the second half. “I didn’t expect to shoot the ball that bad. So I wanted to be better. I was expecting myself to be better already. But I wasn’t. So hopefully I’ll be better next game.
“I was trying to be aggressive and to put the ball in the basket, but it wasn’t working. And it has to work.”
The Clippers tried to put Gallinari in position to be an effective scorer.
But he didn’t seem to be in the best of condition, which was to be expected because of his layoff.
“Gallo struggled,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Like I said before the game, we didn’t expect him [to be effective]. You could see he got to the rim over and over again. He just couldn’t convert. That’s what happens when you miss that many games in a row and you go play in an NBA game.”
The Clippers were forced to turn to their usual characters to help them against the Timberwolves.
Austin Rivers (23 points), Lou Williams (23 points, eight assists) and DeAndre Jordan (18 points and 21 rebounds) delivered.
But they were no match for a Timberwolves team that had all five of its starters score in double figures, which went a long way in helping Minnesota beat the Clippers for the second time in four days.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague both had 19 points and Andrew Wiggins and Taj Gibson both had 16.
But what irked Doc Rivers the most was his team’s poor effort in the first half, which ended with the Clippers down 62-49.
That lead ballooned to 19 points in the third quarter before the Clippers mounted a rally that fell short.
“I liked our second-half effort,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think we came out and played with a lot of energy, a lot of defensive energy. I thought in the second half we were better.”
Behind the play of Williams and Jordan, the Clippers cut a 78-59 third-quarter deficit to 103-100 late in the fourth.
But once again, Butler closed the door on the Clippers, along with some help from Wiggins.
Wiggins scored, Butler made two free throws and a basket and Wiggins scored again for a 111-100 Timberwolves lead that spelled the end for the Clippers.
When the game was over, Gallinari sat at his locker with both knees wrapped in ice.
He lamented his play and that of the Clippers
“I feel good, but not good because we lost,” Gallinari said. “We need to find a way to win the next one.”
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