LOS ANGELES (AP)—Despite shooting a franchise-worst 0-for-14 from 3-point range, the Los Angeles Clippers still found a way to beat the NBA’s worst team.
“They’re just not that good, so we were able to beat them,” Kaman said. “We’re not that good, either. I mean, it was like a ‘Dust Bowl’ game—two of the worst teams in the league playing each other.”
“Obviously, 2007 brought a lot of injuries. January 1st is tomorrow, and I’m not sure that’s going to make it end—but hopefully, that is the case and it’s run its course,” coach Mike Dunleavy said.
Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston have yet to play this season and aren’t expected back until March 1 at the earliest. Tim Thomas also didn’t play because of a sprained left knee, hurting the Clippers’ perimeter shooting considerably.
“We know our situation,” Dunleavy said. “I hate the fact that we’re injured and we haven’t been winning. But I absolutely love where we are, as far as the pieces we have in place and how far we can go if we’re healthy. I think we can have one of the best teams in the West.”
Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Ryan Gomes added 17 points and 15 rebounds. But coach Randy Wittman was upset about the play of guards Rashad McCants, Sebastian Telfair for former Clipper Marko Jaric — particularly in the fourth quarter.
“I have to find some guards to lead us down the stretch,” Wittman said. “We had no direction, no leadership. We have mismatches on the inside that we do not even recognize. It’s the same thing every game.”
The Timberwolves, who traded Kevin Garnett to Boston on July 31 and have played without injured point guard Randy Foye since the start of the season, are off to the worst start in the franchise’s 19-year history (4-26) and own the league’s worst record. They would have to go 12-40 the rest of the way to avoid tying their worst record ever, which was 15-67 in 1991-92.
“They’ve had a double hit,” Dunleavy said. “They had their best player go in a trade and they had their second-best player get injured. I mean, Foye was right on par with Brandon Roy last year, so he’s going to mean wins for them.”
Minnesota increased its five-point halftime lead to 70-59 heading into the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put away the Clippers, who had lost all 17 games this season when trailing after three. Maggette’s three-point play capped a 15-0 run that gave Los Angeles a 74-70 lead with 7:24 to play.
“We defended and we did a good job of stopping them,” reserve point guard Brevin Knight said. “I keep telling people, if you’re not making shots and you can defend and keep them from making shots, it’s a standoff. We got some deflections, made it tough for them inside and tried to force them to make outside shots. Then we got into a little rhythm of our own on the offensive end and rolled with it.”
The Timberwolves missed their first 10 shots in the final period before Craig Smith converted a layup into a three-point play with 6:59 left. But The Clippers clinched it at the free throw line, making seven of nine in the final 1:44.
This was the first time the Timberwolves played on New Year’s Eve in their 19-year history. The Clippers, who had never played on New Year’s Eve during the franchise’s first 32 seasons in Buffalo, San Diego and Los Angeles, have now done it in six consecutive years—all at home (3-3). … The Clippers were 36-45 in 2007 and the Timberwolves were 23-62. … Ten of the Clippers’ 13 games in January will be at home. Their first seven in February will be on the road. … The Clippers were the only Western Conference team that Minnesota won a season series from in 2006-07, taking two of three.