Hot hand by Wil­liams not enough for Clippers

Re­serve scores 45 points but rally falls short and L.A. ends six-game trip with loss.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By An­drew Greif

MIN­NEAPO­LIS — The Clippers trailed by more than 20 points, again. They ral­lied, again. This time, though, they didn’t win again.

Road-weary dur­ing the fi­nal game of a six-game trip, the Clippers ral­lied from 23 points down Mon­day night only to lose to the Min­nesota Timberwolves 130-120 at Tar­get Cen­ter.

What could have been their fourth vic­tory on the trip af­ter trail­ing by at least 20 points in­stead was a de­feat rid­dled with mis­takes.

It spoiled a 45-point per­for­mance by Clippers guard Lou Wil­liams, the most points scored by a re­serve since April 13, 2009, when J.R. Smith of the Den­ver Nuggets scored the same num­ber, and the most ever scored by a re­serve against the Timberwolves.

“It’s hard to kind of di­gest that when you lose a game but grand scheme of things, ca­reer­wise, it’s pretty cool,” Wil­liams said. “We prob­a­bly just ran out of gas tonight. I just don’t think we had it.”

Min­nesota scored 74 points in the paint and 33 points off 21 turnovers. The empty pos­ses­sions by the Clippers al­lowed the Timberwolves, who grabbed twice as many of­fen­sive re­bounds, to at­tempt 18 more shots than the vis­i­tors.

“We were aw­ful de­fen­sively,” coach Doc Rivers said. “The turnovers are one thing. You can’t do that. The of­fen­sive re­bounds, you can’t do that.

“Even through that I thought we still should have won the game but the de­fen­sive mis­takes were so great

that we just couldn’t re­cover.

“We re­ally didn’t de­serve to win tonight.”

It was the sec­ond-high­est scor­ing out­put of Wil­liams’ 14-year ca­reer and helped the Clippers re­serve corps pile up a fran­chise-record 89 points — the most by any group of re­serves since Dec. 1, 1982, when the Kansas City Kings scored 90, ac­cord­ing to Elias Sports Bureau.

The flip side, of course, was that the Clippers starters scored only 31 points.

Wil­liams scored 34 points af­ter half­time, an arena record for a half, and 16 dur­ing the fourth quar­ter as the Clippers ral­lied.

Trail­ing 99-91 af­ter the third quar­ter, the Clippers twice trimmed their deficit to four points, once on a layup by Wil­liams with 6:48 to play and again on a teardrop floater by Wil­liams with 5:25 left.

“Of­fen­sively, he’s one of the best play­ers in the league,” cen­ter Ivica Zubac said. “Amaz­ing.”

But the Clippers missed their next four shots and were outscored 11-5 the rest of the way.

In a duel match­ing two lead­ing con­tenders for the NBA’s sixth man of the year award, Min­nesota’s Der­rick Rose coun­tered Wil­liams by scor­ing 22 points.

Cen­ter Karl-An­thony Towns scored a team-high 24 for the Timberwolves.

The Clippers might have guarded him with for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari, who has of­ten guarded cen­ters, but Rivers didn’t feel com­fort­able with the as­sign­ment only three games af­ter Gal­li­nari re­turned from a lengthy ab­sence be­cause of back spasms.

“We had to go the other route,” Rivers said, “and it prob­a­bly hurt us.”

Zubac guarded Towns and fin­ished with a plus/mi­nus of mi­nus-35, worst among the Clippers.

“It prob­a­bly started with me,” Zubac said when asked about de­fen­sive mis­takes. “I wasn’t good on the pick-an­droll de­fense.

“I was too low and Der­rick Rose got to the rim easy and made some tough shots around the rim.

“They got back into the game and that’s how it started.”

Re­serve Sin­dar­ius Thorn­well sang the cho­rus to Diddy’s “Com­ing Home” in the Clippers locker room af­ter­ward, an apt choice af­ter 12 days on the road.

Along the way the Clippers said good­bye to six team­mates who were traded or waived and met five new team­mates at the trade dead­line.

“Go­ing into the trip I think we just wanted to be .500 and up,” Wil­liams said. “We never re­ally dis­cussed a num­ber on it so 3-3, con­sid­er­ing a trade half­way through it, try­ing to fit guys in, I’ll take it.”

Pho­to­graphs by Jim Mone As­so­ci­ated Press

CLIPPERS GUARD Lou Wil­liams, shoot­ing over Min­nesota’s Karl-An­thony Towns, scored 45 points, the sec­ond-high­est to­tal of his ca­reer and the most by an NBA re­serve in nearly 10 years.

CLIPPERS ROOKIE Shai Gil­geous-Alexan­der tries to drive past de­fender Josh Oko­gie.

Jim Mone As­so­ci­ated Press

TIMBERWOLVES GUARD Josh Oko­gie, right, strains to lift a shot over Clippers de­fender Gar­rett Tem­ple dur­ing the first half.

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