The No. 7 seed Minnesota Timberwolves are back in the NBA playoffs after beating the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Clippers 109-104 on Tuesday in the play-in tournament at Minneapolis' Target Center.
L.A. led 93-83 with 8:54 remaining in regulation, but Minnesota responded with a 16-2 run capped by an Anthony Edwards dunk for a 99-95 edge:
Minnesota never trailed for the remainder of the game, with Edwards notably hitting a big three-pointer for a 102-98 lead. The Timberwolves iced the game with free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
Edwards' 30 points led the Timberwolves, and D'Angelo Russell hit 10-of-18 shots for 29 points. Their efforts helped overcome an off-night from All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who fouled out in the fourth quarter after just 11 points in 24 minutes.
Clippers forward Paul George, who started the game 2-of-10 from the field, finished with 34 points (10-of-24 from the field, 6-of-12 from three).
The Timberwolves hadn't made the playoffs in four years before breaking that streak Tuesday. The Clippers still have a chance to snag a playoff spot and will look to extend their postseason appearance streak to four.
Clippers F Paul George: 34 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
Clippers G Reggie Jackson: 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
Clippers G Norman Powell: 16 points
Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards: 30 points, 5 rebounds
Timberwolves G D'Angelo Russell: 29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns: 11 points, 5 rebounds
Strong 4th Quarter Propels Wolves
Nothing was going right for the Wolves after halftime.
The Clippers outscored Minnesota 42-30 for the first 15:06 of the second half. George got scorching hot, and Towns couldn't get anything going because of foul trouble and struggles from the field (3-of-11).
L.A. led 93-83 and looked close to putting this one away, but Towns sliced to the bucket for a smooth layup to slash the lead to eight.
However, he soon fouled out, leaving the Wolves without their star player. Minnesota has plenty of talent otherwise, though, and it was up to them to take over.
That's just what they did, as the Wolves hit big shots and bore down on defense.
Malik Beasley drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to 93-90:
Malik Beasley drains the 3 to make it a 3 point game! <br><br>Watch the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MetaQuestPlayIn?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MetaQuestPlayIn</a> on TNT<br><br>LAC 93 | MIN 90<br>6:39 remaining in Q4<br><br>WIN TO GET IN <a href="https://t.co/lwFvvK5jlx">pic.twitter.com/lwFvvK5jlx</a>
George responded with a layup, but Edwards and Naz Reid each hit shots to cut the Clippers' lead to 95-94.
Then it was Russell's time, as he hit a pull-up three for a lead the Wolves would never relinquish:
Edwards soon followed up with a hammer dunk:
The Clippers came as close as one point following Nicolas Batum's three-pointer one minute later, but Edwards' step-back three and Russell's ensuing step-back two from just inside the arc gave the Wolves a 104-98 lead.
George cut the lead in half with a three, but the Wolves crept away from there and now find themselves heading to Memphis.
George Does All He Can to Will Clippers to Playoffs
No one on the court played better than George in the second half, as the seven-time All-Star tried to put the Clippers on his back and into the playoffs.
He nearly pulled it off, getting it done on both ends of the floor.
George did his best work from behind the three-point line, though, as the Wolves simply could not stop him from deep. Back-to-back threes put L.A. up top 69-67.
He ended up scoring 18 in the quarter and had 27 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Paul George is up to 15 points in Q3 🔥<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/LAClippers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LAClippers</a> lead by 7 in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MetaQuestPlayIn?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MetaQuestPlayIn</a> on TNT <a href="https://t.co/nzHCm2mjG2">pic.twitter.com/nzHCm2mjG2</a>
George kept it going in the fourth, hitting this mid-range shot for a 95-90 lead:
Those were the only points scored during Minnesota's 16-2 run, though, forcing L.A. to scramble at the end. To George's credit, he kept things interesting with an assist on the Batum three before making a pair of three-pointers of his own.
The Wolves were simply too good down the stretch, though, and George and the Clippers now face a win-or-go-home game Friday.
Minnesota will play the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs beginning Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET in FedExForum.
The Clippers will host the winner of the New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs play-in game on Friday at 10 p.m. ET in Crypto.com Arena.
The victor there will be the No. 8 seed and begin their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.