Piatkowski scored all 24 of his points in the first three
quarters and Elton Brand added 16 points and 13 rebounds as the
Clippers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 94-75 Wednesday night.
"A lot of teams don't run a whole lot of zone, so we worked on
it all through practice yesterday," Piatkowski said. "We were
hurt by it against Memphis because we weren't used to playing
against it. So yesterday our whole scrimmage was against the zone.
And, obviously, it helped."
The Clippers beat the Midwest Division-leading Timberwolves for
only the fifth time in their last 20 meetings despite committing a
season-worst 25 turnovers. Los Angeles offset its mistakes by
making a season-high 12 3-pointers, including five by Piatkowski
and four by Quentin Richardson.
Lamar Odom, starting for the first time in four games since
serving an eight-game drug suspension, finished with six points on
2-for-3 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in 31 minutes.
"I'm not a player who needs the ball in my hands," Odom said.
"I can go get it off the rebound and make plays for my teammates.
My whole career I've averaged seven points, and I'll bet you I only
average maybe 10 or 11 shots. I'm an unselfish type of player."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 20 points and Kevin Garnett had 14
points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who entered the game
with the league's third-best record at 10-3 but went down to their
most lopsided defeat of the season.
The Clippers pulled away with a 22-4 run that turned a one-point
deficit into a 62-45 lead with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
Piatkowski made a pair of 3s late in the rally and Odom capped it
with a fast-break layup.
Szczerbiak scored seven consecutive points to trim Minnesota's
14-point deficit to 80-70 with 6:11 to play. But Richardson, who
scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, responded with
three consecutive 3-pointers in the final 2:18 to make the
Clippers' final margin their biggest of the game.
Brand, whose streak of 20-point games ended at 10, scored only
six points in the first half -- including a fadeaway 14-foot
buzzer-beater that gave Los Angeles a 39-37 edge at intermission.
The Clippers, who committed 13 turnovers in the half to
Minnesota's five, did not send the Timberwolves to the foul line
until Anthony Peeler sank two with 7:03 left in the second quarter.
Los Angeles took only 10 shots in the first 7 1/2 minutes and
committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, but still led
20-16. Garnett missed six of his first seven shots, while
Piatkowski went 4-for-5 with a pair of 3-pointers and Brand blocked
three shots by Gary Trent in a one-minute span.
"Eric got hot real fast and got them into a nice little
rhythm," Garnett said. "I couldn't hit a bucket, so that didn't
help, either. But we're fighters and we kept on fighting, but they
busted it wide open in the third quarter and we never recovered
from that. So we've got to go back to the drawing board and figure
Piatkowski became the 11th player in franchise history to
play at least 10,000 minutes for the Clippers, and the seventh to
do it exclusively in Los Angeles. ... The Timberwolves are back at
Staples Center on Saturday night, when they try to end a string of
14 straight road losses to the Lakers. Minnesota is one of five
teams playing the Clippers and Lakers in back-to-back games at
Staples this season, and the only club that will do it twice. ...
All of Minnesota's first 14 opponents have shot below 50 percent
from the field. The Clippers (46.1) and the Knicks are the only
teams that have shot above 45 percent against them.