LA Clippers learn brutal lesson from Western Conference rival

The Clippers struggled to rebound against the Timberwolves
The Clippers struggled to rebound against the Timberwolves / Harry How/GettyImages

Life comes at you fast. Last night, it came at a blinding speed for the LA Clippers.

They had the game in hand - until they didn't. When the Clippers gained an early 22-point lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves, it felt like it was over. This contest was a style clash, and the Clippers were emerging as the victors. Their platoon off rangy wings were forcing the big, lumbering Timberwolves into turnovers they couldn't erase.

As it turns out, size is still an advantage in basketball. The Timberwolves walked away from this one with a 118-100 victory.

Timberwolves bludgeon LA Clippers on the glass

Even when the Wolves were down, they weren't out. This team kept itself afloat by hustling for offensive rebounds. In the end, they'd grab 19 of them where the Clippers could only manage 8.

In fact, the Timberwolves' overall advantage on the glass was particularly pronounced. They out-rebounded the Clippers by a total of 48 to 34. Realistically, this was the story of the game. Extra possessions generate extra opportunities.

The Clippers still could have won if they'd maximized their own opportunities. If they were going to lost the battle of the boards so badly, they had to win the three-point war. They didn't. The Timberwolves went 12-33 from long range, while the Clippers went 11-30.

Is there a lesson in all of this?

The LA Clippers should (mostly) stick to their game plan

It's worth noting that Kawhi Leonard was only on the floor for 12 minutes in this one. He was forced into an early exit due to back spasms. If he'd been available for a full tilt, who knows how that could have swayed the outcome?

More broadly, the Clippers are bound to punt on rebounds on any given night. This isn't an especially strong rebounding roster - especially without Russell Westbrook. The team is supposed to compensate for that disadvantage by both shooting and defending the three better than their opponents.

Last night, that didn't happen. Perhaps the Clippers could have given Mason Plumlee more than 4 minutes. On the other hand, Tyrone Lue clearly wanted to stretch Minnesota's bigs out to the three-point line by playing Daniel Theis in the middle. On some nights, that will work.

Last night was not one of those nights.