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Clippers clinch playoff spot with win over Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Doc Rivers read the preseason predictions that said his team might win 35 games, at best. Neither the Clippers coach nor his players took much stock in all that.

Now, they're playoff-bound.

Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points and Los Angeles clinched a postseason spot Tuesday night with a 122-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rivers' club is back in the postseason after falling short a year ago. The Clippers finished 42-40 last season, missing the playoffs after making it six straight years - four under Rivers.

''I'm just really happy for our guys,'' Rivers said. ''Before the year, we went through all the articles about us and how bad we were going to be. . I just told them, they don't know us.''

The Clippers (45-30) became the fifth Western Conference team to secure a postseason berth. With seven regular-season games to play, Los Angeles still has a shot at earning home-court advantage in the first round.

Lou Williams added 20 points off the bench for the Clippers, who outscored Minnesota's reserves 53-25. Williams had 45 points the last time Los Angeles played at Target Center.

The Clippers have won six in a row, the longest active streak in the NBA, and are 11-1 in March.

''It's so hard to make the playoffs in the West,'' said guard Patrick Beverley, who said he was fine after exiting the game with a hip pointer. ''To be in the category with some of the teams that we're in the category with, it's truly a blessing.''

Los Angeles led by 25 before Minnesota trimmed the deficit to 104-98 in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Karl-Anthony Towns. It was the closest the Wolves had been since the first quarter.

''Something that I think has failed us in a lot of our losses is just our execution,'' Towns said. ''It hasn't been the effort, and it hasn't been the determination. It has just been the execution.''

Towns led Minnesota with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 and Dario Saric added 18.

Montrezl Harrell helped the Clippers pull away after the Timberwolves got within single digits late in the game. Ten of his 18 points came after Minnesota made it a six-point game in the fourth quarter.

''It's going to be a different guy every night,'' Williams said. ''Trez was having a slow game, and then the last 5 minutes he made all the big plays that we needed to keep some distance there. I think that's just a testament to how we're built.''

Los Angeles, which entered as the second-most accurate 3-point shooting team in the NBA, thrived from deep. The Clippers shot 16 for 32 from downtown. Gallinari hit a team-high six 3s, which matched his season high.

''They might be playing the best basketball out of anybody in the league right now,'' Timberwolves interim coach Ryan Saunders said.

Minnesota was once again short-handed, as several key players - including Derrick Rose, Robert Covington and Jeff Teague - have been shut down for the remainder of the season.

TIP-INS

Clippers: G Landry Shamet did not play due to an ankle injury. Shamet is averaging 11.2 points per game since he was traded to the Clippers in early February. Rivers said Shamet would've played if it were a playoff game. ... Garrett Temple scored 15 points, his highest total since he was acquired by the Clippers in early February.

Timberwolves: F Taj Gibson missed his third straight game with a calf injury. ... Towns didn't convert his first field goal until there was 4:53 remaining in the third quarter. Before that, he was 0 for 7 from the floor. ... Towns' double-double was his 50th of the season. ... Minnesota was 20 of 33 from the free throw line.

UP NEXT

Clippers: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.

Timberwolves: Host the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

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Key Players
L. Williams
23 SG
K. Towns
32 C
33.1 Min. Per Game 33.1
24.7 Pts. Per Game 24.7
3.3 Ast. Per Game 3.3
12.5 Reb. Per Game 12.5
42.8 Field Goal % 52.1
42.6 Three Point % 52.2
87.8 Free Throw % 83.7
  Defensive rebound by Jerome Robinson 0:16
  Offensive foul on Johnathan Motley 0:37
  MIN team rebound 0:44
  Keita Bates-Diop missed 1st of 2 free throws 0:44
  Personal foul on Johnathan Motley 0:44
  Out of bounds turnover on Jerome Robinson 0:54
  Personal foul on Jared Terrell 1:07
+ 2 jump shot 1:07
  Defensive rebound by Anthony Tolliver 1:18
+ 1 Karl-Anthony Towns made 2nd of 2 free throws 1:37
+ 1 Karl-Anthony Towns made 1st of 2 free throws 1:37
Team Stats
Points 122 111
Field Goals 46-85 (54.1%) 41-94 (43.6%)
3-Pointers 16-32 (50.0%) 9-27 (33.3%)
Free Throws 14-14 (100.0%) 20-33 (60.6%)
Total Rebounds 53 52
Offensive 3 10
Defensive 48 33
Team 2 9
Assists 30 22
Steals 8 13
Blocks 4 1
Turnovers 18 10
Fouls 26 18
Technicals 1 0
25 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST
24 PTS, 13 REB, 3 AST
1234T
away team logo Clippers 45-30 42332522122
home team logo Timberwolves 33-41 23323026111
Team Stats
away team logo Clippers 45-30 114.7 PPG 40.2 RPG 25.3 APG
home team logo Timberwolves 33-41 PPG RPG APG
Key Players
D. Gallinari SF 19.8 PPG 6.2 RPG 2.7 APG 35.1 FG%
K. Towns C PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
D. Gallinari SF 25 PTS 10 REB 4 AST
K. Towns C 24 PTS 13 REB 3 AST
54.1 FG% 43.6
50.0 3PT FG% 33.3
100.0 FT% 60.6
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. Gallinari 25 10 4 7/16 6/9 5/5 1 29 1 0 2 0 10 +13 42
G. Temple 15 4 3 5/9 5/8 0/0 5 32 2 0 2 0 4 +8 25
P. Beverley 11 2 5 4/5 3/3 0/0 0 18 0 2 1 0 2 +12 24
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 10 4 4 4/8 0/1 2/2 3 30 1 0 0 1 3 +8 23
I. Zubac 8 6 2 4/5 0/0 0/0 4 20 1 0 2 2 4 +3 17
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
D. Gallinari 25 10 4 7/16 6/9 5/5 1 29 1 0 2 0 10 +13 42
G. Temple 15 4 3 5/9 5/8 0/0 5 32 2 0 2 0 4 +8 25
P. Beverley 11 2 5 4/5 3/3 0/0 0 18 0 2 1 0 2 +12 24
S. Gilgeous-Alexander 10 4 4 4/8 0/1 2/2 3 30 1 0 0 1 3 +8 23
I. Zubac 8 6 2 4/5 0/0 0/0 4 20 1 0 2 2 4 +3 17
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
L. Williams 20 4 7 8/15 1/3 3/3 1 29 0 0 4 0 4 +2 34
M. Harrell 18 5 4 9/11 0/0 0/0 4 26 0 2 3 0 5 +8 30
W. Chandler 6 6 0 3/8 0/3 0/0 2 15 1 0 1 0 6 +3 12
J. Green 5 6 0 1/4 1/3 2/2 1 16 2 0 0 0 6 +1 13
T. Wallace 4 3 1 1/3 0/1 2/2 3 15 0 0 1 0 3 +3 8
J. Motley 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 -3 -1
S. Thornwell 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Robinson 0 1 0 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 -3 0
L. Mbah a Moute - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Delgado - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Shamet - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bibbs - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 122 51 30 46/85 16/32 14/14 26 234 8 4 18 3 48 +55 227
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
K. Towns 24 13 3 6/17 2/7 10/11 3 34 2 0 3 2 11 -12 42
A. Wiggins 22 3 3 9/21 2/3 2/5 3 35 2 0 2 0 3 -13 31
D. Saric 18 5 1 7/10 2/3 2/2 1 27 1 0 3 3 2 -9 23
T. Jones 13 2 8 5/9 3/3 0/1 1 30 0 0 2 1 1 -11 29
J. Okogie 9 4 3 3/7 0/2 3/4 1 34 3 1 0 0 4 -8 23
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
K. Towns 24 13 3 6/17 2/7 10/11 3 34 2 0 3 2 11 -12 42
A. Wiggins 22 3 3 9/21 2/3 2/5 3 35 2 0 2 0 3 -13 31
D. Saric 18 5 1 7/10 2/3 2/2 1 27 1 0 3 3 2 -9 23
T. Jones 13 2 8 5/9 3/3 0/1 1 30 0 0 2 1 1 -11 29
J. Okogie 9 4 3 3/7 0/2 3/4 1 34 3 1 0 0 4 -8 23
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB +/- FPTS
J. Bayless 9 4 3 4/10 0/2 1/5 1 17 1 0 0 0 4 -9 20
K. Bates-Diop 7 2 0 3/7 0/2 1/2 3 18 2 0 0 1 1 -1 11
C. Reynolds 5 2 1 2/5 0/1 1/1 1 5 0 0 0 1 1 +4 9
G. Dieng 4 5 0 2/3 0/0 0/2 1 12 2 0 0 1 4 0 11
A. Tolliver 0 3 0 0/4 0/3 0/0 2 20 0 0 0 1 2 -2 3
J. Terrell 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 +3 0
C. Williams 0 0 0 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 +3 0
D. Rose - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Gibson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Teague - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
R. Covington - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Deng - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 111 43 22 41/94 9/27 20/33 18 234 13 1 10 10 33 -55 202