Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/31/13
The first game of the Clippers' longest road trip this season got off to a dreadful start in Minnesota. Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups sat again with injuries. No surprise there. But forward Matt Barnes, whose temper is frequently his worst enemy, was ejected in the second quarter for a flagrant 2 foul just 3 minutes into the second quarter. The game had the makings of a disaster. So how did the Clippers still squeeze out a 96-90 win over the Timberwolves? They made big shots near the end of the game, got critical contributions from a variety of sources and played with resolve in the second half despite their missing pieces. Those are traits of good teams, and although the Clippers have ebbed and flowed this month after a perfect December, they clearly know how to close out a game when they sense it can be done. They deserve credit for gathering themselves after the loss of Barnes, who was tossed for throwing a vicious forearm near the neck of Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma, who was setting a screen. But it got worse one minute later when Stiemsma knocked Grant Hill to the floor as Hill was going for a rebound. Clippers Caron Butler and Ronny Turiaf rushed at Stiemsma and were assessed technical fouls; Stiemsma received a flagrant 1 foul. After the subsequent free throws, Minnesota held a 38-28 lead. But then the Clippers went on a 36-15 run, taking a 64-53 lead on DeAndre Jordan's layup on an assist from Eric Bledsoe. "We lost Matt early, so that kind of hurt us a little bit," Jordan said. "But we all picked it up a notch." There were contributions all around. Bledsoe, starting again in place of Paul, had 10 points, a season-high 10 assists and six steals. Jordan had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Butler scored 19 points. Jamal Crawford had 17. Blake Griffin finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, and he made the Clippers' biggest basket of the night. With 30 seconds left and the Clippers up by three points, Griffin found himself just inside the free-throw line with nowhere to throw the ball and Jose Barea in his face. He threw up a prayer as he was fouled by Nikola Pekovic and fell to the floor. His foul shot made it a 94-88 game. It was the only shot Griffin attempted in the final period. "I couldn't find anybody," Griffin told Prime Ticket. "I was actually just imagining in my mind that it was falling down and making it. Thankfully, it went in." The game could have spiraled out of control after Barnes was thrown out, and it's something to remember for the rest of the trip, Griffin said. The Clippers showed their composure to come back and take control, but it makes it more difficult when they're short-handed. "We've got to understand that there's something bigger that we're fighting for," he said, "and we've got to keep our cool and do a better job of that. I was proud of the way everybody responded." Their next stop is Toronto on Friday. They have their sights set high. "It's good to get the first win," Jordan said. "You can't win them all without winning the first one. This gives us some momentum going into Toronto."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Cavaliers showing trade interest in Kings’ Ben McLemore

Report: Rockets shopping Dwight Howard

Jim Fassel takes issue with Cam Newton's warmup MVP cleats

Report: NFL upholds Vontaze Burfict’s three-game suspension

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

USWNT start Olympic qualification in style by scoring in first 12 seconds

Magic Johnson wants Peyton Manning to join Rams

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

Franchise tag has been a useful tool for John Elway, Broncos

The 16 best NBA All-Star Game sneakers ever

Eight most potentially combustible MLB clubhouses

Matt Barnes coyly denies IG post was shot at Derek Fisher

NHLers who should be dealt to contenders before deadline

Robert Kraft compares Tom Brady to Peyton, Eli Manning

WATCH: Markieff Morris appears to flip the bird to heckler

NBA 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

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

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