Winning cures all, doesn’t it? After a week of hand-wringing and 3 shameful losses, the LA Clippers staggered into the Target Center desperately needing a win for their collective egos. Mission accomplished; the Clips got up big then withstood a charge from the equally victory starved Minnesota Timberwolves to stroll out with a 98 -90 road win, only their 5th this season.
Newly minted All Star Blake Griffin was effective as always, pouring in 29 on 12-20 shooting, snatching 8 boards, and dishing out 5 dimes, but this time he had some help from unexpected sources. Chris Kaman made a surprise appearance on a court, his first action in 35 games, and chipped in 4 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in only 10 minutes of play. Randy Foye, mired in a funk for the last few games, busted out with 21 and 6 assists, offsetting a rare off night for Baron Davis (6 points on 2 -10 shooting, 6 dimes). Rookie guard Eric Bledsoe picked up the slack off the bench, stuffing the stat sheet with 10 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals (with 4 turnovers and 3 fouls for good measure). DeAndre’ Jordan’s numbers weren’t eye popping, but his efficient 4 point, 8 rebound, 4 block night led to him leading his team with a +/- of +14.
There were a lot of positives in this one; the production of Foye after struggling mightily over the course of losses to the Cavs, Toronto, and Milwaukee is a welcome sight, and if Kaman rounds into game shape while playing like he did last night, the Clips can theoretically trot out one of the elite big man rotations in the league. DeAndre’ Jordan had tallied only 4 blocks in his last 6 games; he had 4 against the Wolves. The Clip Show as a whole tightened down the defensive screws; after giving up 105 ppg over their last 8, Minnesota managed only 90 points on 35% shooting. While fellow All Star Kevin Love did what he could, throwing up 18 points and 18 boards, he suffered a shoulder stinger in the 2nd quarter and was slowed from then on.
Of course there are still wrinkles to iron out. Al-Farouq Aminu continued to struggle; he only scored 2 points, missed both of his shot attempts, and logged 10 minutes. Other than Bledsoe, the bench did a whole lot of nothing, with the other 4 guys to see action combining for 10 points. No biggie, this was a solid win for the road weary Clippers. Add to this the news that Eric Gordon could be ready to return to action next week, and the Clips can go into the All Star break feeling considerably better than they did 24 hours ago.