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Butler scores 33 points, T-Wolves outlast Clippers 112-106

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) This is why Minnesota acquired Jimmy Butler in the offseason. And not just for the scoring, although that certainly helped Sunday night.

Butler scored 20 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help Minnesota outlast the Los Angeles Clippers 112-106. After the game, though, her spent more time bemoaning the defensive breakdowns - a common sight in these parts for the past several years.

''We've got to start guarding somebody,'' Butler said. ''It's really bad, it's really noticeable, and everybody capitalizes on it. But lucky enough, if your shot's falling you can still win. But good gracious, if it's not, I'd hate to see which way this game could've went.''

Sounds an awful lot like his defensive-minded coach, Tom Thibodeau, who's trying to solve Minnesota's defensive woes as it looks to turn around a culture of losing. Thibodeau looked and sounded just as downcast as he has after losses.

''The miscommunication, the awareness, we're talking to each other and they're racing the ball up the floor,'' he said of several breakdowns that led to easy Clippers baskets in the fourth quarter. ''The fourth quarter is so different, and we have a lot to do in that area.''

The Wolves overcame a season-high 30 points from Austin Rivers, who matched his career best with seven 3-pointers. Rivers' final 3-pointer gave L.A. a 92-91 lead with 6:54 to play before Butler scored nine in a row to send the Clippers to their third straight loss.

Minnesota led for most of the game but couldn't manage a serious run, mostly due to Rivers' shooting. Rivers hit three 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the first half to keep the Clippers close. He had a career-high 20 points in the half.

''I just got good looks early and once you see a couple go in, it goes from there,'' Rivers said. ''Once you make a couple, even the tough ones seem easy, or at least in my mind.''

The back and forth continued for most of the second half, and a couple of Minnesota defensive lapses led to easy layups and a wide-open dunk by Montrezl Harrell to give Los Angeles an 84-83 lead with 9:12 to go.

Rivers' seventh 3-pointer gave the Clippers a one-point lead, but Butler took over from there, hitting a free throw, 3-pointer and short jumper before converting a 3-point play to give the Wolves some breathing room.

''I mean, if I make a couple shots,'' Butler said, ''why not keep shooting the ball?''

His teammates certainly didn't mind.

''That shows you why he's such an elite player in this league,'' Karl-Anthony Towns said. ''I was glad to have the popcorn right there and have a front row seat for it because it was amazing.''

GROWING PAINS

Rookies Jamil Wilson and C.J. Williams made their first career starts. Wilson finished with nine points and Williams five. The Clippers were missing four of their opening-night starters, but it wasn't obvious from the close score. And L.A.'s bench outscored Minnesota's 43-23.

''Overall, I'm upset'' coach Doc Rivers said. ''I mean, you want to win the game. But I loved how we played. It's amazing how much better we got in one night. That's what I would take.''

TIP-INS

Clippers: Doc Rivers said F Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute) would play 3-on-3 and could be close to returning. ''He'll play in the next couple, two to three games will be my guess,'' Rivers said. Gallinari, who's averaging 12.8 points, missed his 13th game due to the injury. ... Lou Williams had 23 points off the bench, and DeAndre Jordan had 17, including some big dunks in the fourth.

Timberwolves: Thibodeau reached 300 career victories. He's 300-200. ... Taj Gibson had 20 points, and Towns had 15 points and 12 rebounds for his NBA-leading 19th double-double. ... F Nemanja Bjelica missed his sixth straight game since spraining his left foot. He's dressed for the last four games. ... Jamal Crawford scored 12 points in his first game against his old team. Crawford played five seasons for the Clippers. ... The Wolves have beaten the Clippers three straight times.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.

Timberwolves: At Memphis on Monday night.

Copyright 2017 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
L. Williams
23 G
K. Towns
32 C
34.4 Min. Per Game 34.4
20.5 Pts. Per Game 20.5
1.5 Ast. Per Game 1.5
11.6 Reb. Per Game 11.6
44.9 Field Goal % 52.4
44.3 Three Point % 52.8
90.1 Free Throw % 86.1
  Defensive rebound by Andrew Wiggins 0:20
  Wesley Johnson missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:23
+ 1 Jimmy Butler made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:28
+ 1 Jimmy Butler made 1st of 2 free throws 0:28
  Personal foul on Sindarius Thornwell 0:28
+ 3 Lou Williams made 3-pt. turnaround jump shot, assist by Jamil Wilson 0:31
+ 1 Jimmy Butler made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:33
+ 1 Jimmy Butler made 1st of 2 free throws 0:33
  Shooting foul on DeAndre Jordan 0:33
  Defensive rebound by Taj Gibson 0:41
  Austin Rivers missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:45
Team Stats
Points 106 112
Field Goals 37-73 (50.7%) 38-88 (43.2%)
3-Pointers 15-34 (44.1%) 8-26 (30.8%)
Free Throws 17-22 (77.3%) 28-31 (90.3%)
Total Rebounds 43 51
Offensive 8 14
Defensive 29 28
Team 6 9
Assists 21 22
Steals 3 9
Blocks 7 1
Turnovers 16 7
Fouls 26 16
Technicals 0 0
23 PTS, 5 REB, 10 AST
33 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST
1234T
away team logo Clippers 8-14 27282130106
home team logo Timberwolves 14-10 31291834112
Team Stats
away team logo Clippers 8-14 PPG RPG APG
home team logo Timberwolves 14-10 101.6 PPG 45.2 RPG 22.4 APG
Key Players
A. Rivers G PPG RPG APG FG%
J. Butler G 22.2 PPG 5.3 RPG 4.9 APG 47.4 FG%
Top Scorers
A. Rivers G 30 PTS 5 REB 5 AST
J. Butler G 33 PTS 8 REB 4 AST
50.7 FG% 43.2
44.1 3PT FG% 30.8
77.3 FT% 90.3
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Rivers 35 30 5 5 1 0 3 3 9/14 7/10 5/7 1 4 43 -11
D. Jordan 34 17 12 0 0 2 2 5 8/8 0/0 1/3 3 9 29 -14
J. Wilson 28 9 1 1 0 0 1 4 3/8 3/8 0/0 0 1 11 -1
C. Williams 12 5 1 1 0 0 1 0 2/4 1/1 0/0 1 0 7 0
W. Johnson 33 2 3 2 2 2 4 4 1/10 0/3 0/0 0 3 9 -10
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
A. Rivers 35 30 5 5 1 0 3 3 9/14 7/10 5/7 1 4 43 -11
D. Jordan 34 17 12 0 0 2 2 5 8/8 0/0 1/3 3 9 29 -14
J. Wilson 28 9 1 1 0 0 1 4 3/8 3/8 0/0 0 1 11 -1
C. Williams 12 5 1 1 0 0 1 0 2/4 1/1 0/0 1 0 7 0
W. Johnson 33 2 3 2 2 2 4 4 1/10 0/3 0/0 0 3 9 -10
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
L. Williams 35 23 5 10 0 0 4 2 8/14 3/7 4/4 1 4 44 -6
M. Harrell 12 10 4 0 0 0 0 1 3/5 0/0 4/4 2 2 14 +5
S. Dekker 16 6 1 0 0 2 1 0 2/6 1/4 1/2 0 1 8 0
J. Evans 12 4 3 2 0 1 0 1 1/2 0/0 2/2 0 3 12 +5
W. Reed 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0
S. Thornwell 14 0 2 0 0 0 0 6 0/2 0/1 0/0 0 2 2 +2
D. Gallinari - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Beverley - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Griffin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Johnson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Teodosic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 106 37 21 3 7 16 26 37/73 15/34 17/22 8 29 179 -30
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Butler 39 33 8 4 1 1 1 2 10/20 2/4 11/13 3 5 50 +12
T. Gibson 39 20 11 0 0 0 1 1 6/9 0/0 8/8 6 5 30 +5
K. Towns 37 15 12 1 1 0 3 4 6/13 2/3 1/2 3 9 27 +12
A. Wiggins 38 12 3 1 1 0 1 0 4/15 0/5 4/4 1 2 17 +7
J. Teague 35 9 0 10 3 0 0 1 3/10 1/3 2/2 0 0 32 +9
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Butler 39 33 8 4 1 1 1 2 10/20 2/4 11/13 3 5 50 +12
T. Gibson 39 20 11 0 0 0 1 1 6/9 0/0 8/8 6 5 30 +5
K. Towns 37 15 12 1 1 0 3 4 6/13 2/3 1/2 3 9 27 +12
A. Wiggins 38 12 3 1 1 0 1 0 4/15 0/5 4/4 1 2 17 +7
J. Teague 35 9 0 10 3 0 0 1 3/10 1/3 2/2 0 0 32 +9
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Crawford 18 12 0 1 0 0 0 4 5/12 2/7 0/0 0 0 14 -5
G. Dieng 18 6 5 2 2 0 1 3 3/7 0/2 0/0 1 4 16 -7
T. Jones 12 5 3 3 1 0 0 1 1/2 1/2 2/2 0 3 15 -3
A. Brooks - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Aldrich - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Bjelica - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Brown - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Muhammad - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Georges-Hunt - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Patton - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 112 42 22 9 1 7 16 38/88 8/26 28/31 14 28 201 +30