NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 20th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (6-8) at Los Angeles Clippers (8-4), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Clippers hope to have Chris Paul back in the lineup tonight when they welcome Minnesota to Staples Center.
Traditionally two of the league's doormats both the Clippers and Wolves have made big strides this season.
Adding Paul along with former All-Stars Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups have turned the Clippers into a playoff team while Ricky Rubio's playmaking presence next to Kevin Love in Minnesota has morphed the Timberwolves into a much more competitive bunch.
Paul has been sidelined for the last three games for LA but Billups hit his first "Big Shot" for the Clippers, draining a go-ahead three-pointer with one second left to give Los Angeles a 91-89 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday, the team's first win over Dallas in over three years.
Four seconds prior to Billups' make, Jason Terry hit a straightaway three after coming off a double-screen at the top of the key to give Dallas the lead, 89-88.
But the Clippers drew up a play for Billups, who inbounded the ball along the right sideline and passed to Blake Griffin. Jason Kidd lost Billups in the exchange, and "Mr. Big Shot" hit nothing but the bottom of the net from the right wing.
"I was a little surprised I was that open," Billups said. "I got some separation and made the shot."
Dallas' desperation lob fell short prior to the buzzer, putting an end to the Clippers' 10-game losing streak to the Mavs.
Billups finished with 21 points and Mo Williams scored 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting off the bench for LA, which got 19 points, nine rebounds and five blocks from DeAndre Jordan in its seventh straight home win.
Griffin logged 14 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for LA, which is a stellar 7-1 at Staples Center on the season.
Love, meanwhile, set an NBA record in his last performance on Wednesday, a 93-85 Wolves win over Detroit in the Twin Cities. The All-Star had 20 points and 17 rebounds for his 14th straight double-double to open the season, surpassing former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon for the NBA's longest double-double streak to start a campaign (1992-93).
Nikola Pekovic, Anthony Tolliver and Wesley Johnson had 11 points apiece for Minnesota, which has won three of four overall and is opening a brief two-game road trip tonight.
"We have a lot of fight in us," Johnson told Minnesota's official website. "Last year we would have laid down a lot more. But I think at those points, the mindset has changed so much starting with training camp. I think that rolled into the season. We've got a lot of stuff to work on, but for our group I think our mindset is changing."
On the injury front for the Wolves, forward Michael Beasley, who has already missed the last seven games with a sprained right foot, didn't travel with the team to LA.
The Clippers have won three straight and six of the last eight meetings in this series, including four straight at Staples Center.
01/20 10:51:33 ET