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Clippers’ playoff hopes take a hit with 123-109 loss to Timberwolves

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was unrelenting in his scathing criticism of his group after their disheartened 123-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night at the Target Center before 16,351 fans.

“I just thought Minnesota came out and turned the heat up, and we just couldn’t handle the heat, really,” Rivers began. “I just thought the pressure from them made us wilt. I thought we went away. I thought we let go of the rope way too early in the game. You could see it by our body language. I thought the only thing they did in the second half was they got up into us and we couldn’t handle it.”

“For me, not because of where we’re at playoff-wise, this was the most disappointing loss because of the way we played, the way we carried ourselves and the way we didn’t compete,” he added. “The one thing I think we’ve done all year is competed. Tonight, we didn’t have any of that.”

The Clippers came undone at the start of the third quarter when the Timberwolves went on a 13-1 run to open a 13-point lead that grew to as much as 21 in the fourth.

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Unable to recover from that salvo, the Clippers went on to drop their fourth consecutive game and to fall into the 10th spot in the Western Conference, 2½ games behind the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz.

“I thought we competed,” said Lou Williams, who had 15 points. “I don’t think we had the urgency we needed. There is a difference between competing and having urgency. Urgency is more of adrenaline and playing harder. Sometimes just being competitive isn’t enough. We didn’t play with the urgency, so I kind of understand where he’s coming from.”

With their playoff fate at stake and with just 12 regular season games left to make a move, Williams was asked why.

“I don’t know the reason why,” he said. “But we should have it, especially if we want to make a serious run and get in these playoffs. We should definitely be playing with a sense of urgency.”

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The Clippers will have to see whether they can rediscover their competitive spirit Wednesday night in Milwaukee in a back-to-back game after watching Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (30 points) and Andrew Wiggins (27) hit them hard.

“That particular thing has to come individually,” Williams said. “Every individual guy has to bring it. Once we do that collectively, I think we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win games. At this point, it’s all or nothing. Everybody has to be in. You can’t [have] half the group playing with urgency, half the group not playing with it. Everybody got to be on the same page to give ourselves a chance to win games.”

Tobias Harris had missed the shoot-around earlier in the day with the flu, but he gave what he had in 24 minutes, 24 seconds.

“I’m not feeling that well, but I was going to go out and try to do my best,” Harris, who had 10 points, said in a low voice. “At this point, I just felt I got to be there for my teammates, and whatever I could bring just bring. It was a rough night.”

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner


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