MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers have adopted a big, bad bully mentality to muscle their way toward the top of the Western Conference.
When Greg Stiemsma and the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to stand their ground, the Clippers got mad, and then they got rolling.
Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and 12 boards to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a 96-90 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Caron Butler had 19 points and Jamal Crawford scored 17 for the Clippers, who were challenged in the second quarter during two run-ins with Stiemsma. Matt Barnes was ejected after the first one and Grant Hill was floored during the second. But the Clippers got physical and handed the Wolves their fifth straight loss.
"We never want to come in and lay down and have that be how we get beat," Griffin said. "We came together after that second little scuffle and really said, 'OK, we've got to buckle down and do a better job.' We fought back."
Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who had coach Rick Adelman on the sideline for the first time since Jan. 5. Adelman missed the previous 11 games while his wife sought treatment for seizures.
"Teams are playing aggressive and they want to win," said Ricky Rubio, who had nine points and four assists. "We have to come back and don't step back and try to push them."
The Wolves went 2-9 in Adelman's absence. But the downtrodden team played with much more confidence with their leader back on the bench.
J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved led an 8-2 burst that tied the game and Andrei Kirilenko's transition layup gave Minnesota an 86-84 lead with four minutes to go.
But the Clippers got a big 3-pointer from Butler and knocked the smaller Wolves to the court for several loose balls. Griffin muscled home a three-point play with 30 seconds to go to close the game out.
Barea had 14 points and Shved 12.
The Clippers entered the game having lost four of their last five and looking a little disjointed without star point guard Chris Paul, who is out with a knee injury.
Griffin has elevated his game in Paul's absence, entering the night averaging 23.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and a staggering 6.8 assists in the last five games, picking up some of the playmaking slack left for arguably the game's best point guard.
They will get little sympathy from the injury-ravaged Timberwolves. Minnesota got Pekovic and Shved back from five-game absences, giving them 12 players on the bench for the first time since Dec. 26. They're still missing Kevin Love (broken hand), Chase Budinger (knee) and Brandon Roy (knee).