Minnesota forward Kevin Love, center, celebrates along with teammates… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
So much of the conversation would have been about the marquee matchup between rising star power forwards Blake Griffin and Kevin Love and about Minnesota's rookie point guard, Ricky Rubio.
But the game between the Clippers and the Timberwolves turned out to be about much more.
It was about the Clippers losing a 15-point lead, about them seeing another player suffer an injury and about them losing because Love made a three-point shot as time expired for a 101-98 Minnesota victory Friday night at Staples Center.
"They just chipped away. They executed down the stretch and we didn't," Griffin said.
As it turned out, Love and Rubio were the biggest stars at the end.
Love finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and the winning shot.
Rubio finished with nine points on one-for-11 shooting. But he had six rebounds, six assists and was six-for-eight at the free-throw line.
Rubio missed his first 10 shots, but his three-pointer in front of the Clippers' bench tied the score, 98-98, with 20 seconds left.
Rubio bounded down the court on his way back to Minnesota's bench.
The Clippers called a timeout to set up a play, all of them looking dismayed at the change of events.
Chauncey Billups (20 points) missed a shot on a hanging drive with Rubio defending him closely.
Minnesota called a timeout with 1.5 seconds left after Love got the rebound.
With Luke Ridnour taking the ball out of bounds, Love, the former UCLA star who made his first NBA All-Star game last season, was wide open for his shot.
Griffin, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds, followed Derrick Williams to the baseline while the rest of the Clippers were walled off on screens.
Love stepped out and was all alone.
"We just got to do a better job of communicating," Griffin said. "But it was a good play. Kevin hit a big-time shot."
The Clippers were hit with another injury, a hyperextended right knee that took down starting small forward Caron Butler.
He joined Chris Paul, who sat out his fourth straight game with a strained left hamstring.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said it was possible that Paul and Butler could play Sunday against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center.
Ryan Gomes started in place of Butler, and Randy Foye started in place of Paul.
Gomes finished with 11 points and Foye had 12.
For a long time, Mo Williams was the showman of the night, the player who delivered goods, the one who took center stage.
But he lost his cool when he was called for a foul on Rubio, who slipped on the play. Williams was hit with a technical foul, his second of the game. He was sent to the locker room with 6 minutes 21 seconds left.
He finished with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting. He also had five assists and three rebounds.
Williams has played in two games after missing three with a sore right foot, but he has played those games without missing a beat. He had 21 points in the first half.
He made his first seven shots, missed his next two and then made a runner to give the Clippers a 59-48 halftime lead.
Love entered the game having posted a double-double in Minnesota's first 14 games.
He was averaging 25.2 points per game, fourth-best in the NBA, and he was averaging 14.5 rebounds per game, second-best in the league.