LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin’s streak of double-doubles ended at 27 games. More important to him, the Los Angeles Clippers keep on winning.
Griffin had 29 points and eight rebounds, and the Clippers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 126-111 Wednesday night for their third victory in a row.
“You hear how much looser everyone is, how much fun it is,” Griffin said, nodding at his teammates’ animated chatter.
The Wolves’ Kevin Love had 26 points and 11 rebounds for his NBA-leading 29th straight double-double.
The two players with the most double-doubles in the league had their streaks in jeopardy until the fourth quarter, when Love reached double figures in rebounds after having none in the first half. Griffin left the game two shy with 3:54 to play.
“I would rather be on the Clippers’ side and won. They’re playing good basketball and you have to give it to them,” Love said. “I’d rather be in (Griffin’s) shoes right now.”
Griffin didn’t look pleased when he went to the bench, but he said it wasn’t because his streak ended.
“It was more about the way I played in the second half, I turned the ball over,” he said. “You don’t want to finish out a game like that, at least finish on a high note.”
The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan notched a double-double by the third quarter and finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Eric Gordon added 23 points and Baron Davis 20 for the Clippers, who returned to .500 at home (13-13) with their sixth straight victory at Staples Center. They’ve won six of seven and 11 of 15 overall.
Gordon, the Clippers’ leading scorer, left the game with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter after injuring the tendon in his right ring finger when it got hit by a loose ball. He returned to start the second half with his finger taped.
“It’s hurting pretty bad. I’m just going to play through it,” Gordon said. “They said it’s probably torn.”
Griffin fell in the first half, hitting a wet spot on the court.
“It just scared me for a second,” he said.
Michael Beasley added 21 points for the Wolves, who fell to 2-21 on the road while losing their third in a row. They never got closer than 11 points in the fourth quarter, when Beasley picked up two technical fouls.
“We’re not necessarily the Wizards, but we’re definitely not the cream of the crop when it comes to winning on the road,” Love said.
Griffin’s streak coincided with the Clippers playing increasingly better, while Love’s individual heroics haven’t produced wins by the Wolves.
“That shows you right there that there’s more to it than just one guy. It’s a collective unit,” Love said. “Stats can help, but at the end of the day, it definitely has to be a full team effort from the coaching staff all the way down.”
The Clippers pulled away using their bench early in the fourth, when Griffin sat, already having four fouls. Ryan Gomes and Gordon hit 3-pointers that pushed their lead to 113-91 with 6:35 left.
Gomes missed a long jumper and Love swooped in to secure his 10th rebound with 6:56 to play. He and Griffin were the first players since Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1976-77 to have at least 22 straight double-doubles.
“Kevin always plays his (rear) off, so him getting a double-double does not surprise me because of how hard he plays and as much effort he puts into rebounding the basketball,” Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “He’s working very hard on his offensive game and getting better and better at that. His outside shooting and how to read defenses, all of that is an improvement for him.”
Love, who was 10 of 11 from the free throw line, sat down with 4:44 to play and the Wolves trailing 116-98. Griffin soon followed, and then was hit with a technical while on the bench.
“I don’t know about that,” Griffin said. “I stood up and went `Oh!’ I said it much louder than that.”
Los Angeles opened the third with a 16-7 run to produce its largest lead of the game to that point, 76-55. Gomes hit consecutive 3-pointers and Griffin and Gordon scored four points apiece. At the 9-minute mark, Love grabbed his first rebound of the game when Gomes unsuccessfully tried a driving layup.
From there, the Wolves outscored the Clippers 24-16 to end the third trailing 92-79.
The Clippers led 60-48 at halftime, with Love and Griffin each having two fouls. Love lured Griffin into his first two fouls less than a minute apart late in the second quarter.
The Clippers ran off six straight points, four on free throws, to take their largest lead of the first half at 46-31. Love returned late in the second quarter to score six of the Wolves’ final eight points.
Love picked up his first two fouls within a 7-minute span of the first and both involved Griffin as the two big men guarded each other much of the game.
Notes: Wolves starting center Darko Milicic sprained his left ankle with 6:31 left in the third quarter and didn’t return. … The Wolves fell to 1-14 against the West. … The Clippers took a 2-1 lead in the season series.
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