Clip­pers clinch play­off spot with win over Tim­ber­wolves

Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! -

The Clip­pers (45-30) be­came the fifth Western Con­fer­ence team to se­cure a post­sea­son berth. With seven reg­u­lar-sea­son games to play, Los An­ge­les still has a shot at earn­ing home-court ad­van­tage in the first round.

Lou Wil­liams added 20 points off the bench for the Clip­pers, who outscored Min­nesota’s re­serves 53-25. Wil­liams had 45 points the last time Los An­ge­les played at Tar­get Cen­ter.

The Clip­pers have won six in a row, the long­est ac­tive streak in the NBA, and are 111 in March.

“It’s so hard to make the play­offs in the West,” said guard Pa­trick Bev­er­ley, who said he was fine af­ter ex­it­ing the game with a hip pointer. “To be in the cat­e­gory with some of the teams that we’re in the cat­e­gory with, it’s truly a bless­ing.”

Los An­ge­les led by 25 be­fore Min­nesota trimmed the deficit to 104-98 in the fourth quar­ter on a 3-pointer by Karl-An­thony Towns. It was the clos­est the Wolves had been since the first quar­ter.

“Some­thing that I think has failed us in a lot of our losses is just our ex­e­cu­tion,” Towns said. “It hasn’t been the ef­fort, and it hasn’t been the de­ter­mi­na­tion. It has just been the ex­e­cu­tion.”

Towns led Min­nesota with 24 points and 13 re­bounds. An­drew Wig­gins scored 22 and Dario Saric added 18.

Mon­trezl Har­rell helped the Clip­pers pull away af­ter the Tim­ber­wolves got within sin­gle dig­its late in the game. Ten of his 18 points came af­ter Min­nesota made it a six-point game in the fourth quar­ter.

“It’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent guy ev­ery night,” Wil­liams said. “Trez was hav­ing a slow game, and then the last 5 min­utes he made all the big plays that we needed to keep some dis­tance there. I think that’s just a tes­ta­ment to how we’re built.”

Los An­ge­les, which en­tered as the sec­ond-most ac­cu­rate 3point shoot­ing team in the NBA, thrived from deep. The Clip­pers shot 16 for 32 from down­town. Gal­li­nari hit a team-high six 3s, which matched his sea­son high.

“They might be play­ing the best bas­ket­ball out of any­body in the league right now,” Tim­ber­wolves in­terim coach Ryan Saun­ders said.

Min­nesota was once again short-handed, as sev­eral key play­ers — in­clud­ing Der­rick Rose, Robert Cov­ing­ton and Jeff Teague — have been shut down for the re­main­der of the sea­son.

TIP-INS

Clip­pers: G Landry Shamet did not play due to an an­kle in­jury. Shamet is av­er­ag­ing 11.2 points per game since he was traded to the Clip­pers in early Fe­bru­ary. Rivers said Shamet would’ve played if it were a play­off game . ... Gar­rett Tem­ple scored 15 points, his high­est to­tal since he was ac­quired by the Clip­pers in early Fe­bru­ary.

Tim­ber­wolves: F Taj Gib­son missed his third straight game with a calf in­jury . ... Towns didn’t con­vert his first field goal un­til there was 4:53 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter. Be­fore that, he was 0 for 7 from the floor. ... Towns’dou­ble-dou­ble was his 50th of the sea­son . ... Min­nesota was 20 of 33 from the free throw line.

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