The Los Angeles Clippers hope to build on a big win and keep the heat on their Staples Center co-tenants, the Lakers, when they visit a sinking Minnesota Timberwolves team that will likely be without All-Star Kevin Love.
Love suffered a mild concussion after being hit in the head with an elbow from Denver's JaVale McGee in a 113-107 setback in Denver on Wednesday. The double- double machine spent Wednesday night in the hospital as a precaution.
With Love playing only eight minutes, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams both provided a spark off the bench for the Wolves, pouring in 28 and 27 points, respectively, but Minnesota extended its season-high losing streak to seven games. J.J. Barea added 12 points and a career-high 15 assists.
"We did not stop in transition, we took quick shots and gave them a lot of easy baskets," Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman said.
The turning point of Minnesota's season came back on March 9 when it lost dynamic rookie point guard Ricky Rubio to a torn ACL in a loss to the Lakers. The Wolves, who haven't qualified for the postseason since a Kevin Garnett-led club reached the West finals in 2004, are a dismal 4-14 since then and will be officially eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight.
The Clippers, meanwhile, are closing in on their first playoff berth since 2005-06 and took another huge step toward that goal on Wednesday when Chris Paul scored 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with 8.8 seconds remaining to give the Clips a 100-98 comeback victory over the Western Conference- leading Thunder on Wednesday.
Kevin Durant tried answering Paul's driving floater, but his three-point try from the left wing found all iron as the buzzer sounded.
Blake Griffin totaled 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers, who rebounded from Monday's loss at Memphis to remain fourth in the Western Conference playoff picture and stay 1 1/2 games behind the Pacific Division-leading Lakers.
"That was a great win for us. We needed that and we hung together and pulled it out," Griffin said. "This is a hostile environment and a really tough place to play, so to come in here and get a win against a good team in this building is big for us."
Minnesota has already topped the Clippers three times this season and will be aiming to sweep the season series for the first time since 2003-04.