The Los Angeles Clippers will look to extend their six-game winning streak against a team riding high when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
The Clippers have used an improved scoring attack to put up 104 or more points in five consecutive games during their winning streak.
That run includes 126-115 and 104-84 wins at Minnesota last week, games in which the Clippers took different approaches to their success.
The Clippers made 58.3 percent of their 3-pointers (21 of 36) in the opener of the sequence last Wednesday before allowing just 27 points in the second half of the rematch two nights later.
But that same Timberwolves team shocked the Los Angeles Lakers 107-83 on the front half of their Staples Center back-to-back Friday night, getting 29 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and 22 from former Laker D’Angelo Russell.
The Clippers were firing on all cylinders in their sweep at Minnesota. Paul George averaged 26.5 points, Reggie Jackson 24.5, Nicolas Batum 16.0 and Terance Mann 15.0 in the wins, while Ivica Zubac averaged a double-double with 12.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
Eric Bledsoe, the only Clippers starter who was off his game in the wins, has rediscovered his form, contributing 21 points to a 112-109 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday.
Bledsoe, who joined the Clippers in a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies in August, assured there’s no secret as to how his new team is making up for the absence of star Kawhi Leonard.
“We’re just playing with more flow and pace,” he noted. “We got tons of shooters.”
After entering the contest on a six-game losing streak, the Timberwolves did a great job of silencing the Lakers’ shooters in Friday’s stunner. The hosts were held to 35.4 percent shooting overall and 9-for-41 on 3-pointers.
Minnesota even found a way to win when one of its top players, Anthony Edwards, had an off night with just nine points.
It happened in part because the Timberwolves’ Russell, who complemented his 22 points with seven assists and five rebounds, outplayed the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook, who finished with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Patrick Beverley also enjoyed his return to L.A. with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, hitting five of his six shots from the field.
Having played four seasons and 31 playoff games for the Clippers before being dealt to Memphis, and then to Minnesota, in August, Beverley admitted he got a bit out of control in his first reunion last week. He blamed a technical foul on helping ignite a late Clippers burst.
He vows to be better behaved in his old home.
“I got that silly, stupid tech. Kinda gave them a little bit of momentum,” he said. “I gotta keep my composure better.”
The Clippers have beaten the Timberwolves five straight dating to Dec. 29.
–Field Level Media