Friday, February 3, 2023
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NBA Preview: Los Angeles Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves

The Los Angeles Clippers will go for their second win in three days over the host Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night at Minneapolis.

It is the second game of a back-to-back set between the teams. The Clippers won the first matchup 126-115, which pulled them within one game of .500 after starting the season with four losses in their first five contests.

Paul George finished with 32 points, eight assists and six rebounds against the Timberwolves in Wednesday’s win. Reggie Jackson added a season-high 29 points and eight assists, and Nicolas Batum scored 20 while shooting 6-of-8 from 3-point range.

Now, Minnesota will try to salvage a split in the two-game showdown while snapping a three-game losing streak overall. The Timberwolves have not won since Oct. 27 against the Milwaukee Bucks, dropping a trio of home games since then to the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Clippers.

Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 23.9 points per game, which ties him with teammate Anthony Edwards as the Timberwolves’ leading scorer. Towns leads the team with 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest.

“We’re on a three-game slide right now in the NBA,” said Towns, who is in his seventh season with the Timberwolves. “If I know one thing about Minnesota, it could go from three to 18, to 19, 20, really quick. We’ve got to put an end to that right now, and we’re going to have to put the work in, dive more into the work.”

It is uncertain whether veteran point guard D’Angelo Russell will be ready for Friday’s matchup. Russell missed Wednesday’s game because of a sprained ankle, which he sustained during the loss against Orlando earlier in the week.

If Russell can’t go, veteran guard Patrick Beverley could be in line for his second start in a row. Beverley made his first start Wednesday against the Clippers, his former team, and finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He also earned a technical foul in the fourth quarter.

Clippers coach Ty Lue was not surprised to see Beverley play another hard-nosed game.

“I love ‘Pat Bev,'” Lue said. “He reminds me a lot of myself. I’ll always love that guy. He’ll always have a special place in my heart. It was hard having him on the other side.”

Lue still has plenty of talent on his side with Los Angeles.

George leads the team with 28.9 points per game to go along with 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He is shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from 3-point range.

Reggie Jackson ranks second on the Clippers with 16.3 points per game, and Luke Kennard is third with 11.6 points per contest. Terance Mann is averaging 10 points off the bench after scoring 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting against Minnesota.

Towns said the Timberwolves needed to refocus after Wednesday’s loss.

“We didn’t have that physicality we usually play with,” Towns said. “I think our first couple games you saw really gritty Wolves. … Right now, we’re taking steps back.”

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