MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Blake Griffin had 20 points and 10 rebounds while dominating his matchup with Kevin Love and Chris Paul scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 102-98 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Paul finished with 20 points and 11 assists for his 12th straight double-double to open the season, breaking Magic Johnson’s previous mark of 11 straight in 1990-91.
He scored 12 straight points for the Clippers in the final 3:41 to hold off another late charge from the Wolves.
Kevin Martin had 28 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves.
But Love managed just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds for the Wolves, who have lost two straight to start a tough stretch of five games in seven nights.
Jamal Crawford scored 16 points for the Clippers, who made 12 of 24 3-pointers and held the Wolves to 37.8 percent shooting.
The Clippers led by 11 points with seven minutes to play in the game, a 12-3 surge by the Wolves cut the deficit to 84-82 with 4:34 to play.
But Griffin hit a 21-foot jumper and Paul, who had just four points in the game’s first 43 minutes, converted a three-point play, hit a 3 from the wing and added a 15-foot jumper and a 19-footer to help the Clippers seal it.
In a matchup of two of the best power forwards in the league, Griffin and Love spent the first half trying to pound each other into submission and essentially playing each other to an underwhelming draw. They combined to shoot 4 for 17 in the half, one in which the Clippers opened the first quarter on a 12-0 run and the second 11-0, only to give those double-digit leads back later in each period.
The game was tied at 46 to start the third, and that’s when Griffin made his move.
He scored 14 points in the quarter, often going right at Love and scoring any way he wanted. Layups, jumpers, nifty spin moves in the post.
It was all on display for a player who has put everything together in the past 10 days. Griffin came into the game averaging 25 points and 11.3 rebounds per game over his previous four, and he showed vastly improved defense on Wednesday night as well. He had two blocks and two steals, frustrating Love all the way.
While Griffin heated up in the third, Love kept flailing away. He missed open jumper after open jumper, and it carried over to the rest of his game. He was slow getting back on defense, uncharacteristically missed four free throws and struggled to get his teammates involved the way he had during a brilliant first month.
Love, who went 0 for 4 in the second half, telegraphed one of his trademark outlet passes in the third quarter and Paul read the play like a free safety and intercepted it for Love’s fifth turnover of the game.
NOTES: Before the game, Wolves president Flip Saunders gave Clippers coach Doc Rivers a hard time about walking out to mid-court late in the Clippers’ victory over the Timberwolves on Nov. 11 to call a timeout. “Flip Saunders of all people,” Rivers cracked. “He coached from mid-court.” … DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins each were whistled for flagrant-one fouls in the game. … J.J. Redick scored 14 points for the Clippers.