MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The excuses came ready made for the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford were out with injuries. They were playing their fourth game of a five-game road trip.
Chris Paul would have none of that.
"I said, 'Fellas, let's be who we are. We got who we got, let's keep the train moving,'" Paul told them. "We said, 'No excuses.'"
And no mercy on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that just wants this massively disappointing season to end.
Darren Collison had 28 points and seven assists, and the Clippers didn't miss a beat with Griffin out with a back injury in a 114-104 victory.
Paul had 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Matt Barnes scored 19 points for the Clippers (53-22). Griffin, the team's leading scorer, warmed up before the game but wasn't quite ready after being injured on Saturday night against Houston.
Jared Dudley started in his place and scored 16 points, while DeAndre Jordan grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds to help the Clippers pull within two games of Oklahoma City for the second seed in the West.
"Everyone keeps track," Dudley said. "We know we have another game against (the Thunder) at home and we're just trying to win every game. We want that 2 seed and we know the 1 seed could be tough because San Antonio hasn't lost in a month or so."
Kevin Love had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for the Wolves.
Crawford was out with a calf injury, but a lackluster effort by the Wolves' starters on the second night of a back-to-back made up for his absence.
"They've got to bust it," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "They owe themselves that. Owe their teammates that; owe the organization, the fans."
The Clippers hit 12 of 30 3-pointers and blew the game wide open with a 31-5 run in the third quarter. The Wolves led 59-57 early in the period, but Collison scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the quarter. The Clippers put their foot on the gas, scoring 13 points in transition during the surge, and punctuating it with a lob pass from Paul to Jordan for an 86-64 lead.
Nikola Pekovic left seven minutes into the game when his bothersome right ankle flared up again, and only a spirited effort by Shabazz Muhammad (11 points) and the Timberwolves bench in the fourth quarter kept the game from getting out of hand.