Originally posted on Fox Sports West
By MICHAEL MARTINEZ  |  Last updated 11/12/13
LOS ANGELES -- The ball hung on the rim for what seemed like a full minute. It was actually the briefest of moments, but when it finally dropped out to preserve a Clippers win Monday night, there was a collective sigh of relief inside Staples Center. When you're going good, these things happen. The Clippers returned home from a 1-2 road trip and found a sense of comfort back in their arena. Their defense is improving, their offense is impressive and they're making critical plays down the stretch. If nothing else, their 109-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves was built on a defense that gave up 96 field-goal attempts but held the T-Wolves to 41.7 percent shooting. "Team defense overall was really good," coach Doc Rivers said. "It's just the 96 shots was really bad. They got a lot of shots." The Clippers had occasional troubles rebounding and gave up 52 points in the paint, but they held off the T-Wolves at the finish including the final moments when three attempts to tie the game failed. After Blake Griffin missed a baseline drive that would have given the Clippers a four-point lead, Minnesota called a timeout with 6.9 seconds remaining. But Kevin Martin's 16-footer didn't go in, Nikola Pekovic's short layup missed, and Kevin Love's easy tip teetered on the rim at the buzzer and fell out. "We were fortunate at the end," Rivers said. "That was a point-blank tip." Had it gone in, there would have been an overtime. It simply rolled out, giving the Clippers three consecutive home wins, their best opening stretch since the 2007-08 season. In what has become normal fare, the Clippers' big three all had double-doubles. Griffin scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds, Chris Paul finished with 21 points and 11 assists and DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 11 boards. The Clippers shot 55 percent for the game. Off the bench, guard Jamal Crawford had 18 points, including a desperation 3-pointer from beyond halfcourt to beat the halftime buzzer. "A lot of guys honestly don't want to take that shot because it ruins their percentage," Crawford said. "But I've always been one to kind of go for it. We only won by two points, so tonight it came in handy." It may have been the bucket that ignited the Clippers, who led by one at the half but pushed it to 11 in the fourth quarter before Minnesota came back. "He just needs to see the ball go in, even if it's from three-quarters court, Rivers said of Crawford. "Once that went in, it was like it clicked him on." Even so, the Clippers needed their defense to keep them in front. But they're still not quite where they want to be. "We've gotten better, but we haven't exactly put it all together yet," Griffin said. "We will obviously take this win, but we were fortunate for them to miss two put-backs near the end." Said Paul: "We're almost there. A lot of times tonight we were just in the right spots. I think we need to get better rebounding collectively. We can't just rely on DeAndre and Blake." One other good sign: The Clippers' bench, with Matt Barnes back from a thigh injury, scored 40 points and scored 21 consecutive points from the end of the first quarter to the 5:55 mark of the second. Barnes had nine points and Ryan Hollins added seven. "I think we're getting a little more comfortable," Crawford said. "Hopefully, the rest of this month we'll get better and better. We're better now than we were at the start of the season." They all are. And they're seeing the results.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rockies-Diamondbacks game included a broken-bat homer and the longest homer of 2017

Report: Texans wouldn’t take Jay Cutler’s calls

Albert Pujols mocks Rangers pitcher after beef

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL Draft

Mitchell Trubisky booed at Celtics-Bulls game, for some reason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Larry Bird's sudden exit adds to uncertainty surrounding Paul George, Pacers

Nationals Adam Eaton out for season with torn ACL

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas talks trash about Bulls on court during Game 6

Jets WR Devin Smith to miss all of 2017 with torn ACL

WATCH: Seahawks use scuba diver to announce 2017 NFL Draft pick

Marshawn Lynch takes out full-page ad in newspaper to thank Seahawks fans

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker