Clippers hang tough in 120-116 overtime win over Timberwolves
The Clippers displayed a lack of composure that led to technical fouls on Coach Doc Rivers and DeAndre Jordan and to the ejection of Matt Barnes.
That meant the Clippers had to play through their faults and an inspired Minnesota team Sunday night at Staples Center.
And somehow the Clippers did, showing the resolve to overcome all the challenges before them to pull out a 120-116 overtime victory over the Timberwolves.
“Everybody lost their composure,” Rivers said. “Everybody. We kept gathering ourselves and I thought that was very important. There were a lot of times in that game where we could have just given in, and we didn’t.”
The Clippers didn’t give in when trailing by five points with 1 minute 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They didn’t give in to Kevin Love, who pounded them for 45 points and 19 rebounds or to Nikola Pekovic, who pounded them inside for 34 points and 14 rebounds.
The Clippers didn’t give when Blake Griffin (32 points) fouled out with 4:08 left in overtime.
The Clippers didn’t give in because Chris Paul came up big. Paul got a steal in the fourth quarter that led to a Jamal Crawford basket to tie the score at 106-106 with seven seconds left.
Paul made five of six free throws in the final 19.2 seconds of the game and finished with 19 points, despite missing 13 of 19 shots. He also had 13 assists.
The Clippers didn’t give in and won their season-best fifth consecutive game because Jared Dudley stayed the course when his shot was betraying him.
Dudley missed his first six three-pointers, but he still stepped up with confidence and knocked down a three off a pass from Paul that gave the Clippers a 115-114 lead with 38.6 seconds left.
“You got to make those ones, especially when you get that wide open in that clutch situation,” said Dudley, who made six of 14 shots and scored 15 points.
Barnes, in his second game back after missing 16 recovering from left eye surgery to repair a torn retina, was called for a flagrant foul two on Love and ejected from the game with 56.8 seconds left in the third.
Barnes yelled at referee Marc Davis and had to be restrained by teammates Stephen Jackson and Willie Green, both of whom escorted Barnes off the court.
Barnes, who has played in just 10 games all season, has been ejected from two games.
“First of all, it wasn’t a flagrant two,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think it was a flagrant one. He got mostly ball and he swung at it.”
Griffin was also elbowed in the left temple by Love that drew blood, but Love was only called for a foul.
But the Clippers played through all of that to beat the Timberwolves for the eighth straight time.
“I got a chance to be the one to tell everybody to calm down. Let’s just win the game,” Paul said. “I kept saying that in the huddle. Regardless of this stuff that’s going on, let’s just win the game.”
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