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(Sunday, December 22nd)
Final Score: LA Clippers 120, Minnesota 116 (OT)
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamal Crawford scored the final four points of regulation and Chris Paul made crucial free throws down the stretch in overtime as the Los Angeles Clippers survived with a thrilling 120-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves from Staples Center.
Blake Griffin paced the Clippers with 32 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out early in the extra session. Paul, who scored 19 points with 13 assists, carried the load from there, sinking 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final seconds to help LA secure its fifth straight win.
Crawford added 22 points, Darren Collison went for a season-high 18 off the bench and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 17 rebounds in the triumph.
Minnesota's starting frontcourt tandem of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic was dominant despite the loss. Love filled it up, tallying 45 points, 19 rebounds and six assists, while Pekovic scored a career-high 34 points to go with 14 boards.
"It was a tough loss for a lot of reasons, that's all I have to say," Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman stated. "I don't want to say anything. I don't want to get fined."
Pekovic broke a 112-112 tie with under a minute left in overtime with a short hook shot over Jordan, but Jared Dudley drained a 3 at the other end to put the hosts in front.
Paul then made 3-of-4 from the foul line around a Love sky hook, and Minnesota marched down the floor with a chance to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds. Ricky Rubio found Pekovic down low, but his shot was off the mark and Paul corralled the rebound with three ticks left.
Paul was pure on two free throws to seal the outcome.
The Wolves commanded the early portion of the fourth period, taking a 101-94 edge midway through. LA trimmed its deficit with a 6-0 run before Love netted four straight for a 105-100 lead with 1:29 remaining.
The last few moments of regulation were chaotic. Crawford finished an uncontested layup for a 106-104 margin with 13 seconds left, and Minnesota burned its final timeout to advance the ball to midcourt. The inbounds pass went to Kevin Martin, who was immediately doubled by Paul and Crawford. Martin lost his footing, allowing Paul to jar the ball free and Crawford to scoop it up and coast in for the game-tying dunk with 7.7 on the clock.
Pekovic missed a pair of looks on the other end to force the extra session.
"This was a great lesson for us," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. "I kept saying it's not over."
The game was tied at 24 apiece after the first quarter, and LA led 56-54 at halftime.
Late in the third period, Love's three-point play tied the score and Ryan Hollins' layup put the Clippers in front 77-75. On the ensuing Minnesota possession, Matt Barnes was assessed a flagrant 2 foul for a hard foul on a driving Love and was ejected from the contest. Love made the free throws and canned a 3-pointer five seconds later to put the Wolves in front.
They led by five when Crawford's desperation 3 nearly hit the ceiling before falling through the rim as the buzzer sounded. Minnesota took an 85-83 lead into the fourth.
This was the sixth career 40-point game for Love and the second this season. He scored 42 earlier in the season in a loss to San Antonio ... Dudley scored 15 points for the Clippers ... Martin had 16 points and seven boards for Minnesota before fouling out ... Rubio had 12 assists but did not score despite playing nearly 39 minutes ... Minnesota outrebounded the Clippers, 54-45.
12/23 01:31:30 ET
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