Clippers trust Lou Williams as their clutch closer

first_img“That is what he does, he was just being patient with the game tonight,” Leonard said of Williams, who had five first-half assists. “Second half, he got some open looks and knocked them down. He got to the paint. That’s how the game is. It’s not perfect. Some nights you’ll score your points in the first quarter or the fourth quarter. He just has to keep being solid.“We all trust him. I trust him,” continued Leonard, whose jumper with 15.4 seconds left gave L.A. the lead for good. “He wants to play in the big moments, and he’s ready for it.” Kristaps Porzingis ruled out as Clippers, Mavericks set for Game 5; Follow for game updates Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES — It was easy to wonder what would become of Lou Williams’ role when the star reserve began sharing the court in crunchtime with the superstar pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who’d be capable of – and expected to – close games.Of course, three years ago, Clippers coach Doc Rivers wondered whether Williams would accept any role at all.Williams showed up for training camp ahead of the 2017-18 season at basically the last possible moment, unenthused about the prospect of joining a fifth team in five years.“He came in the day before camp and the rest of the team had been there for 30 days,” Rivers said. “In his defense, he’d been traded, what, four years straight at that point and probably didn’t believe that we had any interest in keeping him around. So I just thought we needed to have a good talk, and I thought we both needed to prove something to each other. “It was a two-way thing … we just talked and said, ‘You prove it, I prove it,’ and if we can get to a trust point, then we can get to a great spot.”Rivers readily envisioned being able to utilize Williams’ smooth scoring prowess – “I’ve always thought if we can get our hands on this dude, we can put him in some really good stuff,” he said — but he didn’t anticipate the sensational sixth man to contribute so much that isn’t quantifiable on a scoresheet.“Lou does a good job of bringing the guys together, so we feel acclimated to one another, and that makes it that much more simple on the court,” new Clipper Rodney McGruder said recently. “Team dinners, stuff like that, team camaraderie.”And so, in Lou Will the Clippers trust – even when the professional scorer is 0 for 4 and without a point more than four minutes into the third quarter of a meaningful game against a Western Conference rival.In Friday’s 122-119 victory over the Houston Rockets, Williams turned it on late, pouring in his team-high 26 points over course of the final 19 minutes, 44 seconds, when he hit nine of his final 12 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:19 to keep the Clippers close and then put them in front. BEVERLEY FINED AGAINThe NBA announced Saturday that Clippers guard Patrick Beverley was fined $5,000 for violating the NBA’s anti-flopping rules for the second time this season, determining he exaggerated reactions to contact from James Harden early in Friday’s win against Houston.Beverley was warned for violating anti-flopping guidelines in the Clippers’ win against Boston on Wednesday.He also was fined $25,000 for enthusiastically flinging the ball into the stands after the buzzer of the Clippers’ season-opening victory over the Lakers.Rivers also received a fine this season, assessed $50,000 for statements he made that the NBA deemed inconsistent with what the team reported to the league regarding Leonard’s health.center_img For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 Clippers vs. Mavericks Game 5 playoff updates from NBA beat reporters EARLY RETURNS PROMISINGThe Clippers – 11-5 overall, after playing at less than full strength most of the way so far against the league’s second-strongest schedule, per ESPN – now are 2-0 with George and Leonard on the court together.Despite having no real practice time together, the two superstars are proving plenty effective: In 49 minutes of shared court time, they’re plus-16 and have a defensive rating of 88.7.And they’re only starting to figure it out.“We hear Kawhi say, like, ‘Man, I’m starting to get it a little bit,’” Clippers guard Patrick Beverley said. “That comes with time.”Related Articles “I feel like I see it,” George said. “We’re basically learning within these games, but there comes a time and a point in the game where you find a way, we execute at the right times, we get stops we need at the right times. There’s gonna be moments throughout the game where we have our ups and downs, that’s expected. It’s just about keeping it rolling.”RIP-ROARING, RECORD STARTThe Clippers will play to move their home ledger to 11-1 on Sunday (6 p.m., Prime Ticket) against the New Orleans Pelicans. They set a franchise record Friday by improving to 10-1 at Staples Center to start the season — a nice enough accomplishment, but not one the Clippers were crowing about.“I really feel like we should win every game,” Beverley said, explaining that he wasn’t trying to boast, rather to embrace heightened expectations. “I think this team was put together not just to make it to the playoffs. I believe, and you believe, this team is put together to win a championship. So we’re at home, we’re supposed to win.”last_img