Los Angeles Clippers: Wesley Johnson

Minnesota has what the Clippers don't

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
12:55
AM PT
What are the Los Angeles Clippers missing?

It's pretty clear after Tuesday's game, when Clippers stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 57 points -- 20 more than Minnesota's entire starting lineup -- and the team still lost by 12.

They're missing bench forwards who can score, guys like Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley, who were solely responsible for the Timberwolves' 109-97 win with their 54 points on 25 shots in Tuesday's game.

The Wolves have exactly what the Clippers need.

Minnesota coach Rick Adelman starts Wesley Johnson and Kevin Love in his forward slots but brings in Williams and Beasley off the bench for an average of 43 minutes a game.

Since Kenyon Martin debuted with the team earlier this month, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has started Griffin and Caron Butler in his forward slots and brought in Martin, Reggie Evans and Ryan Gomes off the bench for an average of 45 minutes a game.

Martin and Evans are capable defenders and useful rebounders but leave a lot to be desired on the offensive end -- Evans especially. New 10-day signee Bobby Simmons took over Gomes' minutes in Tuesday's game, but the point stands.

The Clippers don't have anyone taller than 6-1 on their bench capable of going for 20 points in a given game. And when Mo Williams, the 6-1 player, and Butler don't shoot well in a given game, that will spell trouble.

Not so for Minnesota. Love had just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and Ricky Rubio only two on 1-of-8, but Williams, Beasley and reserve swingman Martell Webster picked up the scoring punch for them.

"They have a lot of scorers," Del Negro said. And a couple of them got hot."

Del Negro has said all season that Williams is the Clippers' key guy off the bench. But that's the problem: good teams need more than one key reserve, more than one capable scorer.

But changes might be coming. The Clippers leave Wednesday for a six-game road trip that takes them to Minnesota and San Antonio, among other places.

By the time they get back early on the morning of March 10, the trade deadline will be only five days away.

Beasley might be available for trade. Other forwards who fit the need probably will, too.

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