LOS ANGELES – The situation looked bleak at best for the coach Doc Rivers’ Clippers — down by four points with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Then a couple of defensive stops, a huge turnover by Minnesota’s Kevin Martin, and two clutch baskets by Jamal Crawford forced overtime.
That’s where Jared Dudley and Chris Paul took over. Dudley made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining in OT and Paul added five free throws in the final 19 seconds, leading Los Angeles to a 120-116 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night.
“The biggest thing we learned as a team from Doc is, even in practice, he talks about ‘The game is not over,’ ” Paul said. “When we got down three or four there with seconds left, we could’ve said we lost this one. But we fought hard.”
Blake Griffin had 32 points and 10 rebounds and was 10-for-11 from the free throw line before fouling out with 4:08 left in OT. The defending Pacific Division champions extended their winning streak to a season-best five games while beating the Timberwolves for the eighth straight time, their longest current streak against any opponent.
Kevin Love had a season-high 45 points and tied a season best with 19 rebounds for the Timberwolves, back at Staples Center after their 104-91 loss to the Lakers on Friday night. It was Minnesota’s first overtime game since beating Orlando at home on opening night.
“We just blew it. Blew the game. I don’t know how else to say it. We blew the game,” Love said.
Raptors 104, Thunder 98
In Oklahoma City, Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, making a pair of clinching free throws with 9.8 seconds left, and Toronto handed the Thunder their first home loss of the season.
The Raptors outscored Oklahoma City 6-0 in the final 1:25, all on free throws, and ended the Thunder’s nine-game winning streak. Oklahoma City had been 13-0 at home, the NBA’s longest unbeaten stretch to open a season since the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first 23 home games during the 2007-08 season.
Amir Johnson had 17 points and 13 assists for Toronto, which won its fourth straight road game, its longest such streak since March-April 2002. Oklahoma City lost for the first time since Dec. 4 at Portland.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey called the win, which moved the Raptors past Boston into first place in the Atlantic, his team’s biggest of the season. Toronto’s road streak began with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 8 and the Raptors added wins at Chicago and Dallas before beating the Thunder.
“It’s one of those mysteries we have, of our focus on the road,” Casey said. “We’re a different team. I see it in our eyes before the game.”
Pacers 106, Celtics 79
In Indianapolis, Lance Stephenson wiggled his hips after a nasty crossover move. Paul George gestured to the crowd with his shooting eye and Danny Granger showed everyone he still has the touch.
This is starting to get fun for the Eastern Conference’s winningest team.
Stephenson finished with his third triple-double this season, George scored 24 points and Granger made four 3-pointers as the Pacers overwhelmed Boston to ruin coach Brad Stevens’ return to his hometown.
“We’re starting the game off with high energy and we’re ending the game with high energy and in between we’re maintaining that energy,” George said. “It wears teams down, and I think that’s been the case these past couple games.”
Indiana is taking full advantage of it, too.
Since losing at home for the first time Monday and then losing at Miami on Wednesday, their first back-to-back losses of the season, the Pacers (22-5) have been almost untouchable. They led for the final 38 minutes against Boston and the final 41 against Houston on Friday. They have the best record in the East and are making things look easy.