Timberwolves blown out by Clippers 129-102 in second game of back-to-back

LOS ANGELES — The question facing the Timberwolves entering Saturday’s game against the Clippers was how big would their hangover be a night after beating the Lakers.

This Wolves group has notoriously gotten too high on its own success, and had just 24 hours to come down from a convincing win over the other tenants at Staples Center.

The hangover was a serious one in a 129-102 loss that wasn’t close beyondthe first few minutes of the second quarter.

They were playing for the second time in consecutive nights, but the Wolves didn’t have to travel, and they didn’t have to game plan too much for their opponent, which they faced twice at Target Center just last week.

The Wolves could have played well and not won Saturday against a good Clippers team, but they didn’t have to lose playing as badly as they did.That much was in their control.

For the third time, the Clippers left the Wolves with a lot of questions after another loss.

The Wolves also continued a cycle they can’t seem to break dating back to last season. They play well in a game, talk about how they need to play like that all the time, only to come out and fall flat most times in the next game. Then it can take them a few more to find the necessary focus for 48 minutes to win another one. Rinse and repeat.

It’s part of the reason why this particular group of players has put together a win streak of two games or more only four times since the beginning of last season. After leading a third-quarter surge against the Lakers, Karl-Anthony Towns had just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, and his night seemed to set the tone for the rest of the team. The Wolves finished this four-game road trip 1-3 and head home for four more this week.

Things started fine enough. The first quarter wasn’t a total disaster as Anthony Edwards equaled his scoring output from Friday night with nine in the first. The Wolves couldn’t hit from the outside, but neither could the Clippers, and the game never veered outside of a few possessions until later in the quarter when Luke Kennard got a couple of shots to fall.

The Wolves trailed just 32-26 entering the second quarter. At that point, they didn’t just let go of the rope, as they tend to say, they yanked it from its moorings and threw it to the ground.

A 25-8 stretch extended the Clippers’ lead past 20 and it would grow as large as 27 by halftime. The statistics from the first half were depressing for the Wolves. The Clippers outscored them 38-17 in the second quarter. They had 40 points in the paint and doubled up the Wolves in that category. They also doubled them up in fast-break points (22-11).

Towns, who had trouble dealing with the double teams the Clippers threw at him in Minnesota, was just 2 of 7. The Wolves didn’t have D’Angelo Russell when they played the Clippers in Minnesota and Edwards promised they would be just fine against them when Russell returned. They weren’t. Russell was also 2 of 7 in the first half. Edwards also cooled from his hot start and was 5 of 16.

The Wolves have shown some resolve when faced with 20-plus point deficits previously this season and have come back to make some games interesting, most recently Wednesday against the Warriors. This wasn’t one of those nights. The Clippers inched their lead to 31 in the third.

Paul George finished with 23 points while Reggie Jackson had 21 for the Clippers, who shot 54%. The Wolves shot just 39% with Edwards scoring 21 and Russell 15.

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