Timberwolves surge past Clippers in NBA play-in behind Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell combined for 59 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves overcome a rough night for Karl-Anthony Towns and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 in a play-in game on Tuesday night.
Edwards scored 30 points with five three-pointers and Russell had 29 points and six assists to send the Wolves to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and a matchup against Memphis in the first round.
Paul George finished with 34 points after shooting 2 for 10 in the first half for the Clippers, who have a second chance to make the playoffs with a home game on Friday for the No. 8 seed against either New Orleans, San Antonio. Reggie Jackson (17 points) and Norman Powell (16 points) did their part in stretches, but the Clippers failed to put the Timberwolves away when they were struggling through the first half.
Towns had only 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but his sidekicks were more than up to the challenge.
Jackson’s three-pointer gave the Clippers their largest lead of the game at 93-83 with 8: 54 remaining, but about 4 minutes later Russell knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer for a 97-95 advantage the Wolves never relinquished. He thanked the crowd for their punctuation. After Powell’s blow at the top of his key, Edwards followed up with a tomahawk-dunk.
The fans were fired up for this fast-paced, fast-improving team that’s headed to the playoffs for the second time in 17 years, but the buzz wore off a bit in the third quarter while George found his groove with a smooth 15 points.
Then Towns fouled out with 7: 34 to go, less than two minutes after he had just checked back in. The Clippers have been playing all season without star Kawhi Lennon, who is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in the second round last year. However, the Clippers are closer to their form last summer when they reached finals of the Western Conference. Powell was acquired from Portland as a trade-deadline acquisition in a super-subrole.
The Clippers were able to disrupt Towns during the regular season. They won three of the four matchups and lost only in January when George was injured. They also attacked the two-time All Star center from every angle. Nicolas Batum was his main tormentor, but many Clippers were involved in the attack.
Towns did not make a basket during the first half, a 0-for-7 failure. His only points were a pair of free throws. He smirked and pumped his first after receiving that call.
STICKING WITH IT
The Wolves trailed 45-38 when Towns exited with his fourth foul with 3: 48 left before halftime, but there was a delay less than a minute later after a woman from the crowd sneaked onto the court during a dead ball on the other end. She staged an animal rights protest and glued her hand to the hardwood at the baseline. Security was unable to remove her.
The Timberwolves took advantage the long pause. Russell hit two mid-range floaters and a three-pointer over the balance of the half to help stake them to a 53-51 lead at the break.
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The most central figure in this matchup might have been Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley, the relentless defender and ace agitator who spent the last four seasons with the Clippers.
The NBA announced a $25,000 fine for Beverley shortly before tipoff for his “improper conduct” in Minnesota’s last game toward referee David Guthrie, at whom he yelled, “You’re trash!” on his way off the court following his ejection for a second technical foul.
Beverley was ejected for a technical foul in the third quarter. He had been tussling in the second quarter with Marcus Morris Sr. Beverley made an off-balance 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer, but replay review determined that it was too late.
Clippers: Backup guard Luke Kennard, their fifth-leading scorer, stayed home because of a hamstring injury.
Timberwolves: Backup forward Taurean Prince was out with a swollen knee.
Clippers: Host the San Antonio-New Orleans winner on Friday night. In an elimination game, the Spurs will play the Pelicans on Wednesday night.
Timberwolves: Game 1 in Memphis is on Saturday afternoon.
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