Clippers clinch playoff spot with win over Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points and the Los Angeles Clippers clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night with a 122-111 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coach Doc Rivers' club is back in the postseason after falling short last year. Los Angeles finished 42-40 last season, missing the playoffs after making it for six straight years - four under Rivers.
The Clippers (45-30) became the fifth Western Conference team to secure a postseason berth.
Lou Williams added 20 points off the bench for the Clippers, who outscored Minnesota's reserves 53-25. Williams had 45 points the last time Los Angeles played at Target Center.
The Clippers have won six in a row, the longest active streak in the NBA, and 10 of 11 overall.
Los Angeles led by 25 before Minnesota trimmed the deficit to 104-98 in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Karl-Anthony Towns. It was the closest the Wolves had been since the first quarter.
Towns led Minnesota with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Wiggins scored 22 and Dario Saric added 18.
Montrezl Harrell helped the Clippers pull away after the Timberwolves got within single digits late in the game. Ten of his 18 points came after Minnesota made it a six-point game in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles, which entered as the second-most accurate 3-point shooting team in the NBA, thrived from deep. The Clippers shot 16 for 32 from downtown. Gallinari hit a team-high six 3s, which matched his season high.
Minnesota was once again short-handed, as several key players - including Derrick Rose, Robert Covington and Jeff Teague - have been shut down for the remainder of the season.
Clippers: G Landry Shamet did not play due to an ankle injury. Shamet is averaging 11.2 points per game since he was traded to the Clippers in early February. Rivers said Shamet would've played if it were a playoff game. . Garrett Temple scored 15 points, his highest total since he was acquired by the Clippers in early February.
Timberwolves: F Taj Gibson missed his third straight game with a calf injury. . Towns didn't convert his first field goal until there was 4:53 remaining in the third quarter. Before that, he was 0 for 7 from the floor. . Towns' double-double was his 50th of the season. . Minnesota was 20 of 33 from the free throw line.
Clippers: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.
Timberwolves: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
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