For most of the game on Wednesday night, it was the Blake Griffin and Kevin Love show. They had been duking it out for 3½ quarters, and Chris Paul was content to watch two of the best power forwards in the game tear away at each other.
But when they two started to finally slow down that’s when Paul stepped up in a big way to finish off the off the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Griffin had 20 points and 10 rebounds to win his matchup against Love and Paul scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone and that lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 102-98 victory over the Timberwolves.
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.
“It’s huge man. Magic is a mentor of mine, somebody I look up to,” Paul said. “His basketball production was unbelievable so be mentioned in anything with him is huge and an honor.”
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.
“It’s just cool to see the ball go through the net,” Paul said. “I’ll take it whenever. Fourth quarter is winning time and we’re all competitive, but as the leader of the team, me and Blake, we know that’s when it’s time to win.”
Kevin Martin had 28 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves.
But the surprise of the night was Love, who only managed 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds for the Wolves. They have now lost two straight to start a tough stretch of five games in seven nights.
“We were just tired, I think, and it’s not getting any easier heading forward,” said Love, whose Wolves host Brooklyn on Friday night before trips to Houston and Indiana. “Nights happen like that and you just try to fight through it. I was a little frustrated. I was getting slammed out there.”
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.
“That’s why he’s a superstar and one of the best point guards in this league,” Martin said. “He got hot at the end and he’s capable of doing that. We did everything we could do to try to force him to miss shots, and unfortunately for them he didn’t.”
The Wolves host the Brooklyn Nets Friday at the Target Center 7:00 PM CST on Fox Sports North or listen on WCCO 830 AM radio.