Clippers 120, Timberwolves 116 (OT)

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Point guard Chris Paul hit five free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime, and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied for a 120-116 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night at Staples Center.
Paul, who finished with 19 points and 13 assists, also forced a turnover by Minnesota guard Kevin Martin that led to the extra session.
Forward Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 32 points. He also had 10 rebounds and four steals before fouling out in overtime. Guard Jamal Crawford scored 22 points, and reserve guard Darren Collison had 18 points for the Clippers (20-9).
Los Angeles earned its fifth win in a row, while Minnesota (13-15) dropped its second consecutive game.
Minnesota forward Kevin Love produced game highs with 45 points and 19 boards. Center Nikola Pekovic added a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who lost to the Clippers for the eighth consecutive time.
The Clippers forced overtime on a Paul steal from Martin, leading to a dunk by Crawford with 7.7 seconds left. Pekovic missed two shots that prevented Minnesota from winning in regulation.
Griffin's basket pulled the Clippers to within 105-102 with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Love hit a free throw to increase the lead to 106-102 with 18 seconds remaining, but Crawford scored on a drive to slice the margin to 106-104 with 13.2 seconds remaining, setting up the crucial turnover by Martin.
The game turned in Minnesota's favor in the third quarter. Referee Marc Davis tossed Matt Barnes after the forward was penalized for a flagrant-2 foul on Love with 56.8 seconds remaining in the third. Initially, Barnes was called for a flagrant-1 after a hard foul on Love during a drive to the bucket, but after a review, the call was changed to a flagrant-2, and Barnes was ejected.
Barnes could face further discipline from the NBA for arguing with Davis after the fact and failing to immediately leave the court.
The incident sparked the Timberwolves, who trailed for much of the contest. Love's two free throws tied the score at 77 before the former UCLA star followed it up with a 3-pointer for an 80-77 Minnesota lead with 51.3 seconds left in the quarter.
Two free throws by Minnesota forward Dante Cunningham pushed the lead to five before Los Angeles forward Willie Green nailed a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 82-80 with 15.1 seconds.
Reserve guard J.J. Barea's 3-pointer gave the Timberwolves an 85-80 advantage with 3.7 seconds remaining, but Crawford answered with a deep trey several feet behind the arc at the horn, cutting Minnesota's lead to 85-83 heading into the fourth.
NOTES: Minnesota F Chase Budinger practiced for the first time Saturday since undergoing surgery (meniscectomy) on his left knee on Oct. 1. "He's doing fine," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "I watched him in the three-on-three (drills) that we have. He's not afraid to put the ball down, take it to the basket." Adelman said the club would evaluate Budinger during the next two weeks and decide when he can return. ... The Clippers held each of their previous four opponents under 100 points, winning all four games. "Last night was one of our better nights (defensively)," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, referring to Saturday's 112-91 rout of the Denver Nuggets. ... Minnesota will get a four-day break before hosting the Washington Wizards on Friday. ... The Clippers visit the Golden State Warriors in the nightcap of the NBA's Christmas Day lineup. ... The game drew a sellout crowd of 19,304.

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