Griffin, Paul Carry Clippers Past Wolves 102-98
MINNEAPOLIS -- Blake Griffin and Kevin Love had been duking it out for 3½ quarters, and Chris Paul was content to watch two of the best power forwards in the game pound away at each other.
When the two big guys started to tire from the grueling duel, the little man took over and finished off the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Griffin had 20 points and 10 rebounds to win his matchup with Love and Paul scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 102-98 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Paul finished with 20 points and 11 assists for his 12th straight double-double to open the season, breaking Magic Johnson’s previous mark of 11 straight in 1990-91.
He scored 12 straight points for the Clippers in the final 3:41 to hold off another late charge from the Wolves and break out of a six-game slump in which he was hitting just 35 percent of his shots.
Kevin Martin had 28 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves.
But Love managed just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds for the Wolves, who have lost two straight to start a tough stretch of five games in seven nights.
Jamal Crawford scored 16 points for the Clippers, who made 12 of 24 3-pointers and held the Wolves to 37.8 percent shooting.
The Clippers led by 11 points with seven minutes to play in the game, a 12-3 surge by the Wolves cut the deficit to 84-82 with 4:34 to play.
But Griffin hit a 21-foot jumper and Paul, who had just four points in the game’s first 43 minutes, converted a three-point play, hit a 3 from the wing and added a 15-foot jumper and a 19-footer to help the Clippers seal it.
In a matchup of two of the best power forwards in the league, Griffin and Love spent the first half essentially playing each other to an underwhelming draw. They combined to shoot 4 for 17 before Griffin made his move in the third.
He scored 14 points in the quarter, often going right at Love and scoring any way he wanted. Layups, jumpers, nifty spin moves in the post.
It was all on display for a player who has put everything together in the past 10 days. Griffin came into the game averaging 25 points and 11.3 rebounds per game over his previous four, and he showed vastly improved defense on Wednesday night as well. He had two blocks and two steals, frustrating Love all the way.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.