MINNEAPOLIS — They rallied around each other, using technical fouls to ignite a collective effort the Clippers knew was necessary to start an eight-game trip the right way.
It took five players scoring in double figures as well as some contributions from players who don't normally play in the fourth quarter for the Clippers to escape with a 96-90 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at the Target Center.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 26 points and 13 rebounds, Jamal Crawford had 17 points and Eric Bledsoe had 10 points, a season-high 10 assists and a season-high-tying six steals.
DeAndre Jordan had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. He also played 5 minutes 46 seconds in the fourth quarter, coming up with three rebounds — one offensive — and a blocked shot.
Caron Butler had 19 points and a big three-pointer that gave the Clippers a lead, at 90-88, that they would not surrender.
"We go into every road trip with the goal to win them all," Griffin said. "You can't win them all without winning the first one.
"We didn't play well through the first three [quarters]. We did in spurts, but the way we pulled it out was encouraging. We have to be much, much better."
The same could be said for Griffin's left ankle.
It has been bothering him for the last six games.
"I woke up [Wednesday] morning and it was swollen," Griffin said. "Hopefully I'll get treatment tonight, tomorrow and I'll be back tomorrow."
The Clippers didn't seem to get better until Matt Barnes was ejected from the game for a flagrant foul 2 for shoving Greg Stiemsma with 8:26 left in the second.
Barnes said he grew upset after Stiemsma "elbowed me in the ribs and clipped me on another play" while setting a screen.
"I kind of lost my control, which I apologized to the team for," Barnes said. "There is no excuse for that. Luckily it sparked the team and we went on a run after that."
It was 1:01 later that Stiemsma shoved an airborne Grant Hill while he was trying to get a rebound.
Stiemsma was called for a flagrant foul 1 for knocking Hill to the court.
When Butler and Ronny Turiaf rushed over and pushed Stiemsma, the two Clippers forwards were called for technical fouls.
"It's a good thing when you get emotionally involved like that," Butler said. "I saw one of my brothers go down and it was just a natural reaction."
After J.J. Barea made the two technical-foul free throws, the Clippers went on a 25-10 run to open a 52-48 halftime lead.
But it wasn't until late in the fourth quarter that the Clippers took control of the game, finishing the final 3:54 on an 11-4 run.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game and a hard-fought game," Butler said. "We stayed with it. One down and seven more to go."