It makes sense that Griffin had arguably his worst performance against the Timberwolves when his main counterpart, Kevin Love, didn't play. He didn't play poorly by any means, but some of his stats are deceiving. Fast-break dunks off of leakouts, defensive miscues by Minnesota and garbage-time minutes deserve the bulk of the credit. You can't knock his rebounding or passing, though.
In what turned out to be a weird offensive game for the Clippers (Nick Young and Randy Foye took more shots than Paul), Paul conserved his energy and took a passive role. The offensive wizard camped out on the perimeter, only slicing into the lane to create an opening for Griffin or a jumper for a wing. After allowing J.J. Barea to go off for a double-double in the first half, Paul held him to one second-half assist.
The revolving carousel of "Who's the third-best Clipper?" changes each game, and tonight was Butler's turn. He stretched the floor with five 3-pointers and didn't force up his usually questionable shots. Ideally, though, he serves as the Clippers' primary penetrator from the wing, not just a spot-up shooter. Butler also gets special acclamation because his name isn't Nick Young or Randy Foye.
If the Clippers are to advance in the playoffs, they'll likely have to first go through the Memphis Grizzlies and then the Oklahoma City Thunder -- two teams that feature a plethora of length and athleticism on the perimeter. Tonight showed that those types of players -- the Michael Beasleys and Anthony Randolphs -- are L.A.'s Achilles' heel, as they have no one to matchup with them.
The final score was not indicative of how close this game actually was -- the Timberwolves actually led for about half of it. Despite missing their two best players (Love and Ricky Rubio), Minnesota was still able to create offensive mismatches and take advantage of their perimeter length and athleticism. Turnovers killed them down the stretch, but their shorthanded performance deserves a hat tip.