MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell combined for 59 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves overcome a tough night for Karl-Anthony Towns and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 in a playoff Tuesday night .
Edwards scored 30 points with five three-pointers and Russell had 29 points and six assists to send Wolves to the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and a first-round game with Memphis.
Paul George finished with 34 points after going 2 for 10 in the first half for the Clippers, who have a second chance to qualify for the playoffs with a home game Friday for the No. 8 seed against the New Orleans or San Antonio. Reggie Jackson (17 points) and Norman Powell (16 points) did their part in the stretches, but the Clippers failed to put the Timberwolves away as they struggled in the first half.
Towns had just 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but his sidekicks were more than up for the challenge.
Jackson’s three-pointer gave the Clippers their biggest lead of the game at 93–83 with 8:54 remaining, but about 4 minutes later Russell knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer for a 97–95 advantage over the Wolves never gave up. He saluted the crowd for the punctuation. Edwards followed with a tomahawk dunk after being blown by Powell at the top of the key.
Fans were excited for this fast-paced, rapidly improving team heading to the playoffs for the second time in 17 years, but the buzz died down a bit in the third quarter as George found his groove. with 15 smooth stitches.
Then Towns fouled with 7:34 to go, less than two minutes into his comeback.
The Clippers have played all season without star Kawhi Leonard as he recovers from a repaired ACL for the injury he suffered in the second round of the playoffs last year, but the recent return of George and Powell from their long-term injuries helped them come closer to their form of last summer when they reached the Western Conference Finals. Powell, in a super-sub role, was a trade deadline acquisition from Portland.
The Clippers managed to disrupt Towns during the regular season when they won three of four matchups, only losing in January when George was absent, and they spared no energy attacking the All-Star double center of all manners. Nicolas Batum was his main executioner, but most of the Clippers had something to do with it.
Towns failed to make a field goal in the first half for the first time in more than three years, a heap of 0 for 7. His only points came on a pair of free throws, and he posted a smirked and pumped his first after getting that call.
STAY WITH HER
Wolves trailed 45–38 when Towns came out with his fourth foul with 3:48 to go before half-time, but there was a delay less than a minute later after a woman from the crowd broke up snuck onto the field during a dead ball at the other end. Organizing a protest for animal rights, she stuck her hand to the hardwood along the baseline and stretched before security could pull her away.
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The Timberwolves took advantage of the extended break. Russell hit two midrange floaters and a three-pointer over the remainder of the half to help them take a 53-51 lead at the break.
The most central figure in this game might have been Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley, the relentless defender and ace agitator who has spent the past four seasons with the Clippers.
The NBA announced a $25,000 fine for Beverley shortly before the whistleblower for his “inappropriate conduct” in Minnesota’s last game against referee David Guthrie, at whom he yelled, “You suck!” when he left the field following his expulsion for a second technical foul.
Beverley recovered a technical in the third quarter of that game after arguing with Marcus Morris Sr. Beverley hit a lopsided three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer later in the period, but that crowd pleaser was later erased by proofreading. because he arrived a fraction of a second too late.
Clippers: Backup goalie Luke Kennard, their fifth-leading scorer, stayed home with a hamstring injury.
Timberwolves: Substitute forward Taurean Prince was out with a swollen knee.
Clippers: Host the San Antonio-New Orleans winner on Friday night. The Spurs face the Pelicans on Wednesday night in a playoff game.
Timberwolves: Game 1 in Memphis is Saturday afternoon.
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