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Los Angeles at Minnesota

Griffin, Jordan help Clippers take bruising battle vs. Wolves

CBSSports.com wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Los Angeles Clippers have adopted a big, bad bully mentality to muscle their way toward the top of the Western Conference.

When Greg Stiemsma and the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to stand their ground, the Clippers got mad, and then they got rolling.

Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 12 boards to lift the Clippers to a 96-90 victory against the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.

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Caron Butler had 19 points and Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who were challenged in the second quarter during two run-ins with Stiemsma. Matt Barnes was ejected after the first one and Grant Hill was floored during the second. But the Clippers got physical and handed the Wolves their fifth consecutive loss.

"We never want to come in and lay down and have that be how we get beat," Griffin said. "We came together after that second little scuffle and really said, 'OK, we've got to buckle down and do a better job.' We fought back."

Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had coach Rick Adelman on the sideline for the first time since Jan. 5. Adelman missed the previous 11 games while his wife sought treatment for seizures.

"Teams are playing aggressive and they want to win," said Ricky Rubio, who had nine points and four assists. "We have to come back and don't step back and try to push them."

The Wolves went 2-9 in Adelman's absence. But the downtrodden team played with much more confidence with their leader back on the bench.

J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved led an 8-2 burst that tied the game and Andrei Kirilenko's transition layup gave Minnesota an 86-84 lead with four minutes to go.

But the Clippers got a big 3-pointer from Butler and knocked the smaller Wolves to the court for several loose balls. Griffin muscled home a three-point play with 30 seconds to go to close the game out.

Barea had 14 points and Shved 12.

The Clippers entered the game having lost four of their last five and looking a little disjointed without star point guard Chris Paul, who is out with a knee injury.

Griffin has elevated his game in Paul's absence, entering the night averaging 23.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and a staggering 6.8 assists in the past five games, picking up some of the playmaking slack left for arguably the game's best point guard.

They will get little sympathy from the injury-ravaged Timberwolves. Minnesota got Pekovic and Shved back from five-game absences, giving them 12 players on the bench for the first time since Dec. 26. They're still missing Kevin Love (broken hand), Chase Budinger (knee) and Brandon Roy (knee).

The Clippers looked a little groggy as they opened an eight-game road trip. They picked up a couple of defensive three-second violations and a bevy of technical fouls to fall behind by as many 11 points in the second quarter. Barnes got things started in the second quarter when he tried to shove his way through a screen set by Stiemsma, then threw a forearm to Stiemsma's throat.

"He hit me with a couple of dirty picks early on and I told him to watch it, then he laughed and he hit me with another one," Barnes said. "I kind of lost my control, which I apologized to the team for. There's no excuse for that, but luckily it sparked the team."

Officials reviewed the play and gave Barnes a flagrant foul-2, which brings an automatic ejection.

"He kind of ran through me on the first one, so I figured he'd do the same on the second one," Stiemsma said. "I didn't know he was going to take it that far. That's what I'm out there to do, set screens and be physical and some guys just take it over the top."

Moments later, Stiemsma flattened Hill when he went up for a rebound under the basket. Butler and Ronny Turiaf forcefully confronted Stiemsma, drawing technical fouls of their own. Barea hit both free throws for a 37-28 lead.

Stiemsma said he was hit in the face on the play and didn't know Hill was there when he pushed back.

"I wasn't retaliating," Stiemsma said. "I just felt a hit to the face and he just went to the floor."

The outburst did seem to ignite the Clippers, who went on a 37-15 surge over the next 11 minutes to take control. Griffin flexed his muscle down low, getting Derrick Williams to pick up five fouls in 13 minutes while he attacked the offensive glass.

"We've got a bunch of nice guys, but I think we have to be a little tougher," Barea said. "We have to stop being too nice. They turned it up. I think it helped them. That was the game right there."


  • It was Barnes' second ejection of the season and seventh of his career. He entered the game tied for the league lead in technical fouls with nine.
  • The 6-foot-1 Bledsoe blocked the 6-11 Pekovic's layup in transition in the third quarter.
  • Shved was named to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge that will take place during All-Star weekend in Houston. The rookie entered the game averaging 10.7 points and 4.6 assists this season.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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During a 3-for-14 shooting night, Eric Bledsoe (right) welcomes a high-percentage shot like this.  (US Presswire)
During a 3-for-14 shooting night, Eric Bledsoe (right) welcomes a high-percentage shot like this. (US Presswire)
L.A. Clippers (34-13) «2329242096
Minnesota (17-25)2523231990
LAC:B. Griffin 26 Pts
LAC:B. Griffin 13 Reb
LAC:E. Bledsoe 10 Ast
MIN:N. Pekovic 17 Pts
MIN:N. Pekovic 12 Reb
MIN:A. Kirilenko 4 Ast
Players of the Game
Los AngelesMinnesota

Blake Griffin

Nikola Pekovic

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Los Angeles
E. Bledsoe, PG393-144-4310210
B. Griffin, PF3611-174-4130326
C. Butler, SF357-123-451219
D. Jordan, C326-84-10120116
W. Green, SG160-30-20030
J. Crawford, SG315-146-822217
L. Odom, PF171-30-07032
G. Hill, SF161-42-40204
R. Turiaf, C111-10-03012
M. Barnes, SF60-10-00110
C. Billups, PGDid Not Play
C. Paul, PGDid Not Play
R. Hollins, CDid Not Play
T. Thompkins, PFDid Not Play
Totals 35-7723-3645161896
N. Pekovic, C378-151-2121317
A. Kirilenko, SF323-107-844014
R. Rubio, PG274-91-23439
L. Ridnour, PG243-71-12228
D. Williams, PF132-30-00055
D. Cunningham, SF353-71-29247
J. Barea, PG244-75-714314
A. Shved, PG215-131-123412
M. Gelabale, SF160-20-02000
G. Stiemsma, C111-22-43014
B. Roy, SGDid Not Play
L. Amundson, PFDid Not Play
K. Love, PFDid Not Play
M. Lee, SGDid Not Play
C. Budinger, SFDid Not Play
C. Johnson, PFDid Not Play
Totals 33-7519-2738202590
Other Games
Det 79 Final
Ind 98
Wash 84 Final
Phi 92
Tor 92 Final
Atl 93
Sac 81 Final
Bos 99
Orl 97 Final
NY 113
Chi 104 Final
Mil 88
Miami 105 Final
Brook 85
Char 78 Final
SA 102
Hou 110 Final
Den 118
NO 99 Final
Utah 104
LAL 86 Final
Pho 92