Los Angeles Clippers vs Minnesota Timberwolves: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/20/18

The Minnesota Timberwolves, scraping to stay in the top eight in the West, try to distance themselves further from the Los Angeles Clippers as they meet Tuesday night.

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Minnesota (40-31) are just 2.5 games out of fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs but are just narrowly ahead of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff berth.

The Timberwolves are looking to avoid a third straight loss and sixth in eight games after a 129-120 home loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday. The offense was not a problem as Jeff Teague (23), Andrew Wiggins (21), Karl-Anthony Towns (20) and Jamal Crawford (20) were among six players in double figures, but Minnesota’s defense was shredded for 16 3-pointers as Houston connected on 55.1 percent of their shots.

The Timberwolves have struggled defensively all season, but it has been acute during this seven-game stretch in which they have given up 114.4 points per game. Minnesota have forced just 11.1 turnovers per game in that span, well below their season mark of 15.1 per contest.

The Los Angeles Clippers (37-32) have a chance to pull within one game of the Timberwolves with a victory and have two games in hand. The Clippers, though, have failed to help themselves against the conference’s elite, dropping three straight to Houston, Oklahoma City and Portland.

The most recent setback came Sunday with a 122-109 loss at home to the Trail Blazers. Lou Williams had 30 points and fellow reserve Montrezl Harrell added 24 as the two tried to compensate for a starting five who totaled 44 points on 17-of-43 shooting.

Like the Timberwolves, the Clippers have had defensive issues. They have given up 100 or more points in 16 straight games, yielding 113.2 per game in that span. Los Angeles, though, have performed well offensively in that stretch, scoring 114.3 per game to emerge with a 9-7 record.

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