Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are usually instrumental to the
Minnesota Timberwolves’ success.
That has surprisingly has not been the case this season in two
meetings against the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Timberwolves
will likely need a strong performance from their two stars Monday
night if they are to defeat Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the rest
of the Clippers again.
Love has totaled 27 points and 21 rebounds in Minnesota’s two
previous games against the Clippers (22-13) this season, but has
shot just 9 of 29. Rubio has fared even worse from the floor in
those games, missing 17 of his 19 shots, and finishing with 11
points and 15 assists.
Love managed 10 points and seven rebounds at Los Angeles last
Tuesday, while Rubio scored two points on 1-of-8 shooting but did
finish with nine assists. Despite those lackluster performances,
the Timberwolves (19-19) prevailed 109-97.
Forwards Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams combined for 54
points and shot 20 of 25 to help pick up the slack as Minnesota
improved to 2-0 in the season series.
“We were knocking down open shots, taking what the defense gave
us and just letting the ball flow,” Beasley said. “We did a lot of
penetrating and kicking out. Those guys like to block shots, so
when you’ve got two or three guys going after one block, that means
you have two guys open for jump shots. It’s kind of hard to go from
the rim back out to the perimeter and contest those shots.”
Beasley and Williams have combined for 64 points in three games
since that win.
Love and Rubio led the way in Saturday’s 122-110 victory at
Portland. Love had a season-high 42 points with 10 rebounds, while
Rubio dished out 12 assists.
“That was one of our best wins of the year, I think,” coach Rick
Adelman said. “We got 60 points in each half. We came out real
aggressive, but then they made their run on us. They’re very
athletic and they got us on our heels a little bit, but our guys
responded. I thought we played a solid second half.”
Just as Love and Rubio pace the Timberwolves, Griffin and Paul
do the same for the Clippers.
The Los Angeles tandem came up big Sunday, as Paul had 28 points
and 10 assists and Griffin added 14 points and 11 rebounds in a
105-103 victory at Houston. The Clippers improved to 2-1 on their
six-game road trip, and 10-8 away from home on the season.
“This was a win we needed,” Griffin said. “It is a relief.”
Another victory also be welcome since the Clippers are just
percentage points ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for first place
in the Pacific Division.
Griffin is averaging 26.2 points and 10.0 boards in six career
meetings with the Timberwolves, including totals of 51 points and
17 boards in the two losses this season.
Paul scored 27 points in last week’s loss to Minnesota.