LOS ANGELES – Jimmy Butler didn’t play for the Timberwolves on Sunday, the third game he missed this season for precautionary rest, but he was in the lineup on Monday as the Wolves took on the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Only problem for the Wolves was he didn’t really show up until the fourth quarter, and by then it was a little too late for the Wolves to overtake the Clippers, who had just enough offensive firepower to get the 120-109 victory at Staples Center.
Butler entered the fourth quarter shooting with only four points on 1-for-6 shooting from the field, a product of the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley providing nagging defense on him most of the night, though Butler insisted his issues were more on himself than with Beverley.
“He didn’t limit me, by the way,” Butler said. “I was just playing not as aggressive in the first three quarters and then in the fourth, I just started attacking more. He is a good defender, though, I will say that."
With Beverley resting to start the fourth, Butler scored the first nine Wolves points and finished with 20 on 6-for-13 shooting. But Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari each scored 22 for the Clippers, who handed the Wolves their third consecutive loss on this road trip. After a strong first half, Karl-Anthony Towns faded in the second half, scoring only four of his 20 points. Neither Butler nor Towns individually were the problem for the Wolves, though, as their defense couldn’t create stops down the stretch to enable a comeback.
After the game, Butler said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to play Wednesday.
“I’m still taking in how we just lost,” Butler said. “I’m not even worried about tomorrow or the day after that.”
The Wolves were frustrated with fouls called on them in the fourth quarter, enabling the Clippers to stifle any Wolves run.
“We just got to play without fouling more, man, not use our hands and just play hard,” Butler said. “If they call a foul, they call a foul.”
Added forward Taj Gibson: “Every time we turned around and tried to make a run, it seemed like a whistle came. It stopped our momentum.”
But Gibson said a lot of wounds the Wolves are sustaining now are self-inflicted, especially when it comes to rebounding. Monday wasn’t as disastrous as Sunday, when Portland outrebounded the Wolves 66-38, but the Wolves weren’t thrilled with allowing 13 offensive boards.
“It’s finishing the play,” Gibson said. “Sometimes, you’re trained to go toward the rim, but now in today’s game, the shots are going long and going out to the [3-point line]. We have a bad little thing going on with the ball that it’s not coming our way.”
When asked what the biggest issue is for the Wolves on the defensive end of the floor, guard Derrick Rose, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence, didn’t hesitate to say “rebounding.”
“It’s all rebounding. If we rebound, we’re going to win the game. What was the rebound count? Anybody know the rebound count?”
It was 43-38 Clippers. Not their worst performance, but if it was better, perhaps the Wolves get a needed road victory, especially in a game in which Butler was able to play.
As was the case Friday, Butler didn’t feel much like fielding questions about his status, deferring to his original answer that he wasn’t in a place to evaluate what might happen Wednesday.
“I play basketball, I play to win ... That’s my job,” Butler said. “I’m not worried about nothing, none of that. You continue to ask those questions, but it’s not going to change the way I go about the game, not going to change the way I interact with guys in this locker room.”