The Los Angeles Clippers will go for their 3rd straight road win tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Unfortunately, Minnesota will be without Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio is expected to get only limited playing time due to a lingering back problem. The Timberwolves have lost 5 of their last 6 games and now sit dangerously close to being out of the playoff race at 15-19.
The Clippers are coming in with the NBA’s second best record at 30-9, a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and have been impressive (to say the least) with Chris Paul out nursing a knee bruise during their two latest victories over playoff contenders Memphis and Houston. They will look to make it three straight before returning home for a Saturday contest against Washington, then take on two more playoff teams, one at Golden State on Monday and a showdown at home with OKC the next evening.
The real news, however, is that tonight on TNT will see the NBA All-Star game starters named, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin expected to be among them for a second consecutive year as teammates. Jeremy Lin garnered enough votes to make it interesting, but ultimately flattened in the balloting behind Paul. Griffin was a runaway winner at forward, which will be great for viewers in that defense seems to take the night off and he’ll be ready to dazzle with his high flying dunks. Coach Vinnie Del Negro may be named the Western Conference Coach, depending on how the Clippers record fares at the deadline, while Jamal Crawford could get a nod off the bench for his strong first half play of this season. DeAndre Jordan has been flirting with the idea of entering the dunk contest, but hasn’t confirmed as of yet.
Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Durant are expected to round out the starting five, making it two years in a row that LA has sent four starters to the All-Star game (Andrew Bynum, a Laker last year, was the starting Center).