NBA: Streaking Clippers top Wolves, clinch playoff berth

Reuters

Posted at Mar 27 2019 04:17 PM

Los Angeles Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) steals the ball from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) in the first quarter at Target Center. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports/REUTERS

Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points, and Lou Williams added 20 as the visiting Los Angeles Clippers officially clinched a playoff spot and increased their winning streak to an NBA-best six games with a 122-111 victory Tuesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points as the Clippers broke a tie in the Western Conference standings with the Utah Jazz and moved back into sole possession of fifth place with seven games remaining. Five of those last seven Clippers games are in Los Angeles.

The Clippers shot 54 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range and 100 percent from the free-throw line, giving them the first 50-50-100 game in the NBA since the Golden State Warriors did it on March 29 of last year.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 24 points with 13 rebounds as the Timberwolves lost for the sixth time in their past seven games. Minnesota was eliminated from playoff contention Thursday.

The Clippers led 42-23 after one quarter and built their advantage to as many as 25 points in the second quarter before taking a 75-55 lead into halftime. Minnesota cut the deficit to six points at 104-98 with seven minutes to play before the Clippers pulled away again down the stretch.

Towns' team-best point total for Minnesota came despite going without a field goal in the first half and not making his first basket from the field until 4:53 remained in the third quarter. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points while Dario Saric added 18 and Tyus Jones had 13.

The short-handed Timberwolves were playing without forwards Robert Covington (knee), Luol Deng (Achilles) and Taj Gibson (calf), as well as guards Derrick Rose (elbow) and Jeff Teague (foot).

Not only do the Clippers own the longest winning streak in the NBA, they are a league-best 15-4 since Feb. 9, while also winning 11 of their last 12 games. 

They are 3-0 on their current four-game road trip that ends Thursday with a stern test at Milwaukee against the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks.

Gallinari added 10 rebounds, and Garrett Temple scored 15 points as Los Angeles returns to the playoffs after missing out on a spot in the postseason last year with a 42-40 record. It will be the Clippers' seventh playoff appearance in the last eight years.

Despite the victory, there was some level of concern for the Clippers after guard Patrick Beverley left in the third quarter and did not return following an apparent right hip injury.

The Clippers were also playing without rookie guard Landry Shamet, who is day-to-day after leaving Sunday's game at New York with a left ankle impingement.

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