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News » Timberwolves-Clippers Preview 2009-11-02

Timberwolves-Clippers Preview 2009-11-02

Timberwolves-Clippers Preview 2009-11-02With an injury to their No. 1 overall draft pick and four consecutive losses, it was a difficult first week of the season for the Los Angeles Clippers.

They'll look to change their fortunes Monday night, when they try to snap a three-game home losing streak to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Drafting Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin with the first selection in the draft was supposed to help turn around the fortunes of a Clippers franchise that's been to the playoffs four times since 1976. After the team confirmed a stress fracture in Griffin's left kneecap last Monday, though, Los Angeles opened the 2009-10 campaign with last season's consensus college player of the year sidelined up to six weeks.

"He could play on it, but it won't get better," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Once that became apparent, there was no question: Let's shut it down. Him playing at a lesser level isn't going to do us much good."

Without Griffin, the Clippers find themselves where they were last season: 0-4.

Los Angeles snapped its six-game slide to open 2008-09 with a victory over Dallas, but the Clippers couldn't repeat that effort this season, falling to the Mavericks 93-84 on Saturday.

Center Chris Kaman grabbed 11 rebounds and scored a career-high 27 points, but his hook shot with 4:41 left was Los Angeles' only field goal in the final seven-plus minutes.

"We need to start playing harder in the fourth quarter," second-year guard Eric Gordon said. "We also need to do a better job of stopping the other team on defense. We had a couple of good runs and a few leads, but they made big plays and made the tough shots in the end."

Kaman missed the first two games against Minnesota last season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and also did not play in an 87-77 loss to the visiting Timberwolves on April 7 due to flu-like symptoms.

Gordon hit five 3-pointers and scored 28 points in that game - the Clippers' third straight home loss to Minnesota.

The Timberwolves (1-2) make their first visit to Los Angeles this season following Sunday's 120-112 loss at Phoenix.

Minnesota pulled within 110-105 with 3:13 left on Ryan Hollins' jumper, but the Suns outscored the Timberwolves 8-2 until Ryan Gomes' 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining.

"These guys are young," said first-year coach Kurt Rambis, who returns to Los Angeles, where he was a Lakers assistant for 10 years. "Without experience or knowledge, they don't know how to play against them (the Suns). They don't understand all the nuances of playing a team like that. Late in the game, we gave ourselves a chance. But they made a couple of shots down the stretch."

Gomes had 23 points and 15 rebounds while teammate Al Jefferson scored 21 and shot 9 of 23. Still working his way back from an Achilles' injury, Jefferson played a season-high 33 minutes.

He averaged 24.0 points and 12.5 boards in the first two games against the Clippers last season before missing the April 7 matchup with a torn ACL.

Minnesota is shooting 41.7 percent from the field, including 28.1 percent from long distance.

The Clippers are 0-4 for the fifth time in their history.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 2, 2009


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