Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley go wild off bench in win over Clips
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves' bench beat the Los Angeles Clippers' starters in Tuesday's 109-97 win, which provided another feather in the cap of a young team going forward.
The Wolves entered the fourth quarter down three points before their bench hosted a free basketball clinic on the hardwood at Staples Center for the Clippers and their famous fans to attend.
The Wolves outscored the Clippers 36-21 in the final frame and didn't miss a field-goal attempt until a J.J. Barea's 3-pointer drew iron with 90 seconds to go.
In total, the Wolves scored 72 points off the bench behind 27 points each from Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley -- two guys who desperately needed a big performance to boost their confidence. The bench total was the highest in the NBA season and just two shy of the franchise record.
Williams, the rookie who infamously complained about being a "caged lion" on Twitter, might have had his coming-out party in a game that was supposed to be a marquee match-up between All-Star power forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. Williams shot 9-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc, in what was easily his best career game.
Beasley, still coming off the bench, torched the Clippers on 11-of-15 shooting himself and, like Williams, also was perfect from distance, making all four of his 3-point attempts.
The Wolves (18-17) are back above .500 and have more wins than they had all of last season (17). Also, they have done it by winning consecutive games in which unsung heroes have stepped up while their big names watched on from the bench.
This game was billed as a Hollywood match-up between two of the sexier names in the NBA right now, Love and Griffin, but it didn't exactly match the hype.
The game didn't get off to a promising start for Love, who was replaced with 5:11 left in the first quarter by Williams after picking up his second quick foul -- and quickly picking up a technical foul on the bench.
The fouls gave Love time to rest after his eventful All-Star weekend that saw him win the 3-point contest and score 17 points in the game itself. He played just 25 minutes on Tuesday and the closest he could get to the court in the fourth quarter was to hug Beasley and Williams when the Clippers would continually call timeouts desperate for answers.
Love finished with 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Griffin scored 24 points in the fist half but was bogged down by second-half adjustments by coach Rick Adelman and only finished with 30 on the night.
The Wolves opened up the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run and wouldn't look back as Williams and Beasley took the game over and made it their own.
Joining in on the fun was Martell Webster, who scored 11 points off the bench, and Barea, who dished seven assists.
Rubio handed out seven assists but largely struggled, shooting just 1-of-8 and only making a cameo appearance with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter after the Wolves had secured a double-digit lead and the victory.
16: First-half assists, a season-high for the Wolves.
19: Minutes for Darko Milicic who saw his return to action after an extended absence. He dished five assists, grabbed three rebounds and scored a point.
2: Bench players who scored at least 25 points, the first time in franchise history they've had more than one.
All bodies came back from the All-Star Break healthy and accounted for after they were allowed to disperse around the country.
Baseball Hall of Famer and Minnesota Native Dave Winfield attended the game at the Staples Center Tuesday as a guest of Love, according to Wolves PR.
The Wolves play a second consecutive road game on Wednesday, but they won't have to even check out of their hotel. Their Los Angeles two-step finishes up with a game against the Lakers right back at Staples Center.
The Lakers (20-14) might be without their superstar guard Kobe Bryant after he suffered a nasal fracture at the All-Star Game on Sunday on a hard foul by Dwayne Wade. Bryant missed the team's practice on Tuesday and will undergo an MRI, according to ESPN Los Angeles.
The Wolves get no time to rest, with a flight to Phoenix awaiting them right after their game against the potentially Bryant-less Lakers for the dreaded back-to-back-to-back. The Wolves will take on a Suns team (14-20) that will have the advantage of an extended All-Star break. Due to scheduling quirks in this shortened season, Thursday's game will be the Suns' first in eight days.