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    Clippers forward Paul George, left, drives past Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie during the second half of Friday’s game in Minneapolis. George scored 46 points as the Clippers won 124-117. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague, left, drives past Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

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  • Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell takes a shot over Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns during the second half of Friday’s game in Minneapolis. The Clippers won 124-117. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, right, looks for a screen by forward Andrew Wiggins, left, as Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) tries to break it up during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann, right, tries to get past Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) tries to drive past Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, left, talks with guard Derrick Walton during a break during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, center, grabs a rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers as Timberwolves forward Robert Covington (33) looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, right, goes up for a shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. Leonard had 42 points as the Clippers won 124-117. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, left, goes up for a layup past Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, right, tries to drive past Minnesota Timberwolves forward Robert Covington during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, left, react after Towns is fouled as he made a three point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. Clippers won 124-117. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, right, reacts after being called on a technical foul and is led away from the referee by forward Robert Covington during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. Clippers won 124-117. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

  • Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, sizes up Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie during the first half of Friday’s game in Minneapolis. Leonard scored 42 points and made all 19 of his free-throw attempts in a 124-117 victory. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

MINNEAPOLIS — This is what the Clippers had in mind when they teamed Paul George with Kawhi Leonard.

Paul George scored 46 points, Kawhi Leonard had 42 and the short-handed Clippers held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-117 on Friday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

It was the highest combined scoring output of the season for the Clippers’ new superstar duo, and they needed it on a night when several key rotation players were out with injuries. Leonard and George’s previous high came Dec. 1 when they combined for 65 points against Washington. They became the first set of teammates in Clippers’ history to each score 40 points. It was the 21st time in NBA history it has happened.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 39 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost its seventh in a row. Towns had 14 points, including a four-point play, in a 22-6 fourth-quarter run that trimmed a 21-point Clippers advantage to five.

Andrew Wiggins added 34 points for the Timberwolves. His basket with 1:04 left cut the Clippers’ lead to 119-115, but Minnesota didn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.

Leonard and George set the tone early, combining to score the team’s first 23 points. They accounted for 54 of the Clippers’ 65 first-half points. They became the first duo to each score 35 or more points through the first three quarters of a game in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Leonard made a career-high 19 free throws. He was 19 for 19 from the line.

The Timberwolves took a 51-50 lead in the second quarter with a 15-2 run, capped by a Towns 3-pointer. Leonard responded with seven consecutive points to give the Clippers the lead for good.

George started the third quarter with a 7-0 run of his own. He scored 16 in the third, when the Clippers took control by outscoring Minnesota 37-23.

Leonard’s 31 first-half points set a career-high for points in a half. He tied a career-high for points in a first quarter with 16.

Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points for the Clippers. Jeff Teague scored 22 for the Timberwolves.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Guards Lou Williams (calf), Patrick Beverley (concussion) and Landry Shamet (high ankle sprain) did not play. Shamet missed his 16th consecutive game. … Assistant coach Sam Cassell and Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders were assistant coaches on the Washington staff from 2009-14. Cassell also played two seasons for the Timberwolves from 2003-05 when Saunders’ father, Flip, was the coach. … Only four Clippers scored in the first half: Leonard, George, Harrell and Patrick Patterson.

Timberwolves: Forward Jake Layman missed his 11th consecutive game with a left toe sprain. Forward Keita Bates-Diop returned to the rotation after missing Wednesday’s loss to Utah with flu-like symptoms. All 10 of Robert Covington’s points came in the second quarter.

UP NEXT

The Clippers play at Chicago on Saturday, a game that tips off less than 22 hours after Friday’s.

LA Daily News