Following an overly active weekend it would like to put behind it, the Los Angeles Clippers moves forward on Tuesday with a visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After coming out on the losing end of NBA history on Friday and enduring a scare on a team flight Saturday, the Clippers took the top team in the Western Conference to the wire Sunday, only to experience the sting of defeat again.
The drama began Friday, during Russell Westbrook’s debut, when the Clippers failed to protect a 14-point lead with 4:25 remaining and lost a 176-175 decision in double overtime to the Sacramento Kings in a game that was more pinball than basketball. It was the second-highest scoring game in NBA history.
On Saturday morning, lightning struck the team airplane shortly after takeoff en route to Denver, according to multiple reports. One day later, Los Angeles rallied from an early 18-point deficit, only to lose in overtime again, this time by a 134-124 count.
The Clippers averaged 149.5 points over a two-game stretch and lost both contests.
At this point, Los Angeles could use some normalcy, although it’s likely that anything goes as the team tries to lock down a high seed for the playoffs.
The Clippers showed they can give the Nuggets a worthy test, getting 33 points from Kawhi Leonard, 23 from Paul George and 17 from Westbrook -- who also added four assists and five steals in 25 minutes of his second game with the team.
Mason Plumlee had 10 rebounds in 27 minutes as he started in place of center Ivica Zubac, who has missed the last two games with a right calf strain.
“The biggest thing for me is just the way we started,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “You can’t get down 15, 16 points to a good team like this and then you have to fight and claw back. But overall, I liked our grind and our grit. I thought Russ did a good job. I should have probably played him more.”
The Timberwolves enter on a three-game losing streak, the most recent of which was a 109-104 setback at Golden State on Sunday. Naz Reid scored a career-high 30 points, while Anthony Edwards was held to 12 on 5-of-19 shooting (26.3 percent). Edwards averages a team-best 24.7 points per game.
The Timberwolves missed 10 of their 21 free-throw attempts and were 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.
“I thought, if we keep playing like that, we’ll be fine,” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said. “We responded to everything and if there was another two minutes in the game, or another minute in the game, maybe we finish on top.”
Minnesota continues to be without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf), while Rudy Gobert (13.4 points, 11.6 rebounds per game) missed Sunday’s game with an illness. Towns hasn’t played since late November.
Minnesota is entering its second game of a four-game stretch in California before moving into a run where it plays eight consecutive games against Eastern Conference teams that includes matchups against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.