Serge Ibaka he left today in a very Spanish duel of the NBA in which the Los Angeles Clippers destroyed a Minnesota Timberwolves (124-101) in which was saved from sinking Ricky Rubio, who was part of the starting quintet and who left a very remarkable performance.
Ibaka, fully consolidated as a starter in the Clippers, had 16 points (7 of 12 shooting), 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks in 21 minutes in which he became the true owner of the paint. For his part, Rubio got 17 points (6 of 8 shooting) and 5 assists in the 25 minutes he played in what, so far, has been his best game of the season. Juancho Hernangómez, the other Spaniard in this game, had 2 and 4 rebounds for the Wolves in 18 minutes.
The Clippers came from a historical humiliation, since on Sunday they were crushed by Dallas Mavericks (73-124) who at the break beat them by 50 points (27-77). Ty Lue’s team, which now has a balance of 3 wins and 1 loss, conspired to put that enormous setback into oblivion as soon as possible and today they dazzled with a very choral performance.
Lou Williams and Paul George, with 20 and 18 points, respectively, led the offense of a Clippers who could not count on Kawhi Leonard due to injury. For the Wolves, who missed one more night the injured Dominican-American center Karl-Anthony Towns and who are left with 2 wins and 2 losses, the top scorer was D’Angelo Russell with 22 points.
The night looked good for the Wolves at the beginning, as Rubio hit two triples in a row to get 8 very early points that launched his team (7-16). It was just a mirage. Ibaka with 4 points in a row, Zubac’s forcefulness in the zone and, above all, Lou Williams’ scoring effervescence turned the score around at the end of the first quarter (33-29).
The Wolves came to equalize the game (39-39), but their structure dissolved like a sugar cane due to a huge 25-5 partial that put the game already very uphill (64-44). Everything worked for the Clippers, from George’s solvency to reinforcing secondaries like Kennard, and they kept the 20-point gap at halftime (70-50) without difficulties.
The Angelenos dominated in each of the parcels of the game, but above all they excelled in their effectiveness at the rim with a 56% accuracy in shots to the basket in the first half. Nothing changed after passing through the locker room, except that the Clippers managed to further extend their distance to blushing extremes (105-76).
Both teams reserved their figures in a last quarter that did not have any kind of competitive tension.
The Clippers will return to action on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, while the Wolves will meet the Washington Wizards on Friday.