The Los Angeles Clippers seemed to signal a shift toward the future with the trade of leading scorer Tobias Harris to Philadelphia before the deadline but instead put together one of their most impressive performances of the season on Saturday. The Clippers will try to follow that up and clinch a winning six-game road trip when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
Los Angeles, which gave up its arena to the Grammy Awards with the lengthy road trip, traded wins and losses on the first five stops, capped by a 123-112 triumph at Boston on Saturday in which it recovered from a franchise-record 28-point deficit. "We didn't have anything," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters. "At halftime I told the guys, 'Everybody's playing uptight, stop trying to impress each other. Get out of each other's way and just start playing.'" The Timberwolves are one of several teams chasing Los Angeles for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference but are slipping out of the race with losses in four straight games as they wait for a handful of injured players to make their way back onto the court. "Right now, the bandwagon is empty, but I like it," veteran forward Taj Gibson told reporters. "Just got to stay with the same routine, putting your work in, stay locked in and be ready, wait for the cavalry to come. I'm hoping the cavalry does come."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FS North (Minnesota) LINE: Timberwolves -4.5
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (31-26): Los Angeles is incorporating four new players - center Ivica Zubac, shooting guard Garrett Temple, power forward JaMychal Green and point guard Landry Shamet - into the rotation after a series of trades and simplified the offense down the stretch to finish off the comeback at Boston. "We talked yesterday, down the stretch if we get to a close game, we're going to run two things and we're going to run them over and over again and that's exactly what they did," Rivers told reporters. "It was limited, but it worked." Shamet led the newcomers with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (25-30): Minnesota sits five games behind the Clippers in the West and is thin in the backcourt with point guards Derrick Rose (ankle), Jeff Teague (foot), Tyus Jones (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (toe) ailing along with swingman Robert Covington (ankle). Teague returned to the lineup on Friday and scored 12 points in 17 minutes but could not help the team avoid a 122-117 loss at New Orleans. "We've been preaching that we've got to win dang near every game," Teague told reporters. "We've got to go on a streak and make a run at it. Right now, we've just got to get some guys healthy. A lot of guys are out. Some of our main players. Hopefully we can get some guys back and just try to make a run at it."
1. Clippers SF Danilo Gallinari is averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games since returning from a back injury.
2. Timberwolves SF Andrew Wiggins recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds on Friday for his third double-double of the season.
3. Los Angeles snapped a six-game losing streak in the series with a 120-109 home win over Minnesota on Nov. 5.
PREDICTION: Clippers 116, Timberwolves 109 Bet Now
See all the NBA basketball Predictions