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The No. 7 seed Minnesota Timberwolves is back in the NBA playoffs after beating the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 on Tuesday in the qualifying tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis.
LA led 93-83 with 8:54 remaining in regulation, but Minnesota responded with a 16-2 run capped by an Anthony Edwards dunk for a 99-95 advantage:
Minnesota never trailed for the rest of the game, with Edwards notably hitting a big three-pointer for a 102-98 lead. The Timberwolves iced the game with free throws on the stretch to put the game away.
Edwards’ 30 points led the Timberwolves, and D’Angelo Russell shot 10 of 18 for 29 points. Their efforts helped overcome a night from All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who fouled out in the fourth quarter after just 11 points in 24 minutes.
Clippers forward Paul George, who started the game 2 of 10 from the field, finished with 34 points (10 of 24 from the field, 6 of 12 from three).
The Timberwolves hadn’t made the playoffs in four years before breaking that streak on Tuesday. The Clippers still have a shot at a playoff berth and will be looking to extend their playoff appearance streak to four.
Clippers F Paul George: 34 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
Clippers G Reggie Jackson: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
Clippers vs. Norman Powell: 16 points
Timberwolves vs. Anthony Edwards: 30 points, 5 rebounds
Timberwolves G D’Angelo Russell: 29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns: 11 points, 5 rebounds
A strong 4th quarter propels the wolves
Nothing was going well for Wolves after half-time.
The Clippers outscored Minnesota 42-30 for the first 15:06 of the second half. George got hot and Towns couldn’t do anything due to problems and struggles on the pitch (3 of 11).
LA led 93-83 and looked set to put that one aside, but Towns cut to the bucket for a smooth layup to cut the lead to eight.
However, he was soon fouled, leaving Wolves without their star player. Otherwise, Minnesota has plenty of talent, and it was up to them to pick up the slack.
They did just that, as Wolves hit big shots and pressed down on the defence.
Malik Beasley drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to 93-90:
George responded with a layup, but Edwards and Naz Reid each hit shots to cut the Clippers’ lead to 95-94.
Then it was Russell’s turn, as he hit a pull-up three for a lead Wolves would never relinquish:
Minnesota Wolves @timber wolves
YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS pic.twitter.com/1R3fqZYsIV
Edwards quickly followed up with a hammer blow:
The Clippers came within a point after Nicolas Batum’s three-pointer a minute later, but Edwards’ back three and Russell’s back two just inside the arc gave Wolves a lead of 104-98.
George cut the lead in half with a three, but Wolves pulled away from there and now find themselves heading towards Memphis.
George is doing everything he can to get the Clippers to the Playoffs
No one on the court played better than George in the second half, as the seven-time All-Star tried to put the Clippers on his back and into the playoffs.
He almost nailed it, doing it at both ends of the floor.
George did his best job behind the three-point line as Wolves simply couldn’t stop him from deep. Back-to-back trios put LA in the lead 69-67.
He ended up scoring 18 in the quarter and scored 27 before the final 12 minutes.
George continued in the fourth, hitting this midrange shot for a 95-90 lead:
Those were the only runs scored in Minnesota’s 16-2 run, forcing LA to scramble in the end. To George’s credit, he kept things interesting with an assist on the Batum three before making a pair of three-pointers himself.
Wolves were just too good down the stretch, however, and George and the Clippers now face a game to win or come home on Friday.
Minnesota will face the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs starting Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET at FedExForum.
The Clippers will host the winner of the New Orleans Pelicans playoff against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. in Crypto.com arena.
The winner will be the No. 8 seed and begin their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.