T’Wolves coach Sam Mitchell rips team after lopsided loss to Clippers

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Clippers forward Jeff Green (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Andrew Wiggins of the Timberwolves goes up for a shot while being guard by the Clippers’ Jeff Green during Wednesday’s game at Minnesota/AP photo by Ann Heisenfelt

You might say Minnesota Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell was just a bit upset after his team was routed 99-79 by the Clippers on Wednesday night in Minnesota. Afterward, Mitchell did not pull any punches about the play of his team.

“Worst game,” Mithcell said to reporters. “They didn’t set screens, they didn’t pass the ball. I didn’t even recognize us at the start of the game. They still have to learn how to play basketball. They still have to grow up. They played a team that’s a real playoff team tonight. You saw what happened, so we’re not ready yet.”

He was finished.

“I wish they would stop reading the newspapers, stop talking to their friends because we’re not good enough to show up and play,” Mitchell said of his talented, yet young team that is now just 25-50. ” That was the worst game we played all year.”

The Clippers (47-27) held the T’Wolves to 34.5 percent shooting. Minnesota also had 16 turnovers to just eight for the Clippers, and the T’Wolves shot just 64.7 percent (11 of 17) from the free-throw line. Their leading scorer on the season, Andrew Wiggins, scored just seven points on 3 of 9 shooting. Wiggins, who averages 20.7 points, also had six turnovers. Guard Zach LaVine started, played a little more than 22 minutes and did not score, missing all six of his field-gal attempts.

Minnesota trailed by 33 points (92-59) with 6:45 left to play.

Well, Mitchell was hot, to be sure. His rookie center, Karl-Anthony Towns, wasn’t too pleased, either.

“I think it is (the worst game) because we came off a great win and we had the momentum on our side and we just came in and came out flat,” Towns said.

Minnesota was coming off a 121-116 victory over the hapless Phoenix Suns.

 

Five things to take from Clippers’ 108-102 loss to Timberwolves

J.J. Redick of the Clippers guards Tayshaun Prince of the Timberwolves on Wednesday at Staples Center/Staff photo by David Crane

 

– Although this loss was a very unlikely one for the Clippers, as the Timberwolves have one of the worst records (15-36) in the league, it’s also understandable because there is a law of averages to consider. The Clippers had gone an almost-unbelievable 15-3 without Blake Griffin before this game and sometimes a team on a run like that will lose to an vastly inferior team. That’s not to mention that with young talent like Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, the Timberwolves are going to beat good teams on a given night. They scored 31, 17 and 17 points, respectively.

– Technical fouls hurt the Clippers in this one. Austin Rivers took two for arguing a non-call in the second quarter and was ejected. Chris Paul took one with 20.6 seconds to play for arguing an “overt clap” when J.J. Redick was called for a foul on Ricky Rubio as Redick and Paul were double-teaming him. Paul said he knows he can’t be getting fourth-quarter technical fouls and that he apologized to his team after the game. The technical assessed him came from referee Lauren Holtkamp. It was in February 2015 that Paul was fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of Holtkamp after a loss at Cleveland.

– Coach Doc Rivers was honest after the game. He said he thought his team lacked focus from the opening tip. “I didn’t think we had any intensity into the game,” he said. That showed defensively, several  players said. The Timberwolves shot 50.6 from the field, 47.1 (8 of 17) from 3-point range.

– It’s tough to win when one of your best shooters – Redick – goes 1 of 9 from the field. He wasn’t the only one, though. Paul Pierce shot 1 of 5 and Jamal Crawford was 5 of 15. Overall, the Clippers shot 44 percent from the field, which is not horrible. But 32 of their 75 field-goal attempts were from 3-point range, and they made only 11 of them for 34.4 percent.

DeAndre Jordan pulled down 15 rebounds, but the team as a whole only had 35, well under its season average of 42.1, which is only 24th-best in the league. Minnesota had 42 rebounds.

Five things to take from Clippers’ 107-99 victory over T’Wolves

 

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

Lance Stephenson’s play in nearly 20 minutes off the bench was noteworthy. He scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds, doled out three assists and made one steal. He also brought with him incredible energy.

It was interesting to see that after starting at small forward the previous three games, not only did Wesley Johnson not start, he saw only four minutes and 12 seconds of action off the bench and did not score. Doc Rivers said Johnson needs to play better on defense.

– Speaking of defense, Luc Mbah a Moute started at small forward because Rivers said the team needed that for this particular game. He ended up scoring seven points, and made a big steal down the stretch during an 8-0 run that all but sealed Minnesota’s fate.

– The Clippers committed 13 turnovers, but just three of those came in the second half. Point guard Chris Paul had four of those turnovers and power forward Blake Griffin had three. They also led the team with a combined 46 points – Griffin scoring 26, Paul 20. Griffin also had eight rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. Paul also had nine assists and went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. Enough said.

– Don’t sleep on the Timberwolves. They may not make the top eight in the Western Conference this season, and yet they could. But over the next few seasons, they could be very good. With a core of rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns, second-year shooting guard Andrew Wiggins and second-year point guard Zach LaVine, they have a bright future.

Blake Griffin has high praise for T’Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns/Photo courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns had just scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his Minnesota Timberwolves’ 107-99 loss to the Clippers on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, when Clippers forward Blake Griffin was asked to assess the rookie from Kentucky.

“Towns is tough,” Griffiin said of the 7-foot center. “I liked his game at Kentucky just watching him. He seems to be a great kid, great player, obviously. He has so much room to grow. He has such a high ceiling that he is going to be tough (in the future).”

Towns was averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds through 16 games ahead of Sunday.

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul each score 10 as Clippers lead T’Wolves

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul scored 10 points apiece as the Clippers took a 48-37 lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves into the locker room at halftime Sunday at Staples Center.

Lance Stephenson had seven points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal off the bench for the Clippers.

Andrew Wiggins led the T’Wolves with 11 points and Karl-Anthony Towns scored eight.

The Clippers led by as many as 16 points.

Both teams entered 8-8.