Wednesday, March 22, 2023

NBA Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (31-32) at Los Angeles Clippers (33-30)

The Minnesota Timberwolves will be in town on Tuesday for the Los Angeles Clippers, who hope to put an overly busy weekend behind them.

The Clippers went toe-to-toe with the best team in the Western Conference on Sunday, only to feel the sting of defeat once more after losing in NBA history on Friday and enduring a scare on a team flight on Saturday.

The drama started on Friday, when Russell Westbrook made his debut, when the Clippers couldn’t keep a 14-point lead with 4:25 left and lost to the Sacramento Kings 176-175 in double overtime in a game that was more pinball than basketball. The game had the second most points scored in NBA history.

According to multiple reports, lightning struck the team plane on its way to Denver on Saturday morning shortly after takeoff. The following day, Los Angeles came back from an early 18-point deficit to lose again in overtime, this time by a score of 134-124.

Over a two-game stretch, the Clippers scored 149.5 points on average and lost both games.

Even though the team is attempting to secure a high playoff seed, anything goes, Los Angeles could use some normalcy at this point.

Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points for the Clippers, Paul George added 23 points for the Nuggets, and Westbrook scored 17 points for the Clippers. In his second game with the team, Westbrook also had four assists and five steals in 25 minutes.

Mason Plumlee started in place of center Ivica Zubac, who has missed the last two games with a strain to his right calf. He played 27 minutes and pulled down 10 rebounds.

The Timberwolves are coming into this matchup having lost their previous three games, the most recent of which was a 109-104 defeat at Golden State on Sunday. Anthony Edwards was held to 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting (26.3%), while Naz Reid scored a career-high 30 points. Edwards scores 24.7 points per game, which is a team-high.

In the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves missed 10 of 21 free throw attempts and were 3 of 13 from three-point range.

Karl-Anthony Towns remains out for Minnesota with a calf injury, and Rudy Gobert, who averages 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, was unable to play on Sunday due to illness. Since late November, Towns has not played.

Before beginning a run of eight games against Eastern Conference teams that includes games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, Minnesota enters its second game of a four-game stretch in California.

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