Timberwolves-Clippers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers salvaged the finale of their recent trip with a strong defensive effort, though it hasn't been necessary with the way they're scoring at home.

That may have to change when Kevin Love and the Timberwolves visit Staples Center seeking Minnesota's best start in 12 years.

The Clippers will try to put together a complete performance Monday night as they try to open 3-0 at home for the first time since 2006-07.

Following losses in Orlando and Miami, Los Angeles (4-3) managed to avoid a winless three-game road swing by rallying past Houston 107-94 on Saturday.

The Clippers outscored the Rockets 61-39 in the second half - including an 18-0 run during one stretch. Houston had scored 118 in a 19-point loss at Staples on Nov. 4, but Los Angeles held the Rockets well below their season average (105.6) this time.

"I kept telling them to hang in there," said coach Doc Rivers, whose club allowed 98.0 points per game on the trip after giving up 112.5 in its first four. "We hung around and got it going and our defense won the game."

The Clippers haven't had much trouble outscoring their first two opponents at home, putting up a combined 263 points and shooting 50.8 percent against Golden State and Houston. At the same time, though, Los Angeles allowed 233 points on 51.3-percent shooting. The Warriors and Rockets also combined to go 19 of 43 from 3-point range.

The Clippers hope to build on their latest defensive effort against Minnesota, which has averaged 87.8 points during a five-game skid in the series.

That's certainly less imposing than the 22-game losing streak the Wolves ended versus the Lakers with a 113-90 victory at Staples on Sunday. Minnesota put up 47 points in the first - the highest-scoring quarter in franchise history.

Ricky Rubio had his second career triple-double with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, while Love had another big game with 25 points, 13 rebounds and four 3-pointers.

"Everybody was making shots," said Rubio, the first opponent to record a triple-double against the Lakers since LeBron James on Christmas 2010. "We knew we'd lost the last 22 or something like that. It was a good game for us to end it."

Love is averaging 26.9 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season. He had 39 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to their last win over the Clippers, 95-94 in Minnesota on March 5, 2012.

The Clippers also could have their hands full with Kevin Martin, who has made 18 of 28 from 3-point range while averaging 27.0 points over the last five games.

The surging Timberwolves (5-2) are now trying to win six of their first eight for the first time since a 9-1 start in 2001-02.

With Griffin playing well for Los Angeles, this game features two of the NBA's top power forwards. Griffin, averaging 24.0 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last three games, has scored 23.8 per game in 12 career meetings with the Timberwolves.

While Chris Paul seeks his eighth straight double-double to open the season, he's looking to get his shot back on track after totaling 25 points on 8-of-24 shooting in his last two contests.

The Clippers could be without Matt Barnes for a fourth straight game due to a right thigh contusion.

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