Sunday, January 22, 2012
Postgame thoughts: Toronto
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- Here are a few items of note from the Los Angeles Clippers' 103-91 win over the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center on Sunday.
Mo Williams has shot lights-out since he returned from injury Wednesday against Dallas, scoring 26, 25 and 26 points in consecutive games and doing it in an average of just 31 minutes per night.
He's taken exactly 15 shots in all three games. And, in his last 74 minutes of play, Williams has scored exactly 74 points. That's efficiency -- as was his start to the fourth quarter Sunday, when he scored the Clippers' first 17 points of the period over a six-minute stretch.
Williams said that was the product of an "echo effect" created by the reserves he was on the floor with at that time, including Solomon Jones and Reggie Evans.
"I didn't do it by myself," Williams said. "Obviously my teammates know how to set screens. We really executed and got me the ball in spots."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has always stressed that Williams needed time to adjust to his new sixth-man role with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups. By now, he's gotten a lot of that time, and it's showing.
"I think he's a little more comfortable knowing when he's going in," Del Negro said. "Guys are looking for him and we're running some sets through him and he's been hot."
Blake's free throws
Over his last 10 games, Blake Griffin has made just 33 of 75 attempts from the free-throw line, good for just a 44-percent clip.
That's a pretty terrible number -- far below the 64-percent number he finished his rookie season with and farther below the number he converted in the second half of the season, about 70 percent. It's also worse than DeAndre Jordan's numbers over that same stretch.
He made just 6 of 14 attempts on Sunday against the Raptors, shooting worse from the line than he did from the field.
What's wrong? From an aesthetic perspective, it looks like Griffin just might have a hitch in his delivery. He always pauses briefly after bending his knees and coming up to shoot it, but sometimes that pause is a long one and sometimes it's quite quick. It doesn't look the same every time.
Del Negro had some interesting comments about it after Sunday's game.
"He's been getting to the line 10-plus times," he said. "He's just going through one of those spells right now. He's going to keep on working on it and there's some technical things that he's working on right now to improve overall.
"Sometimes you might take a step back to get to the level that he wants to get to. But he's going to get to the line and I have confidence in him to make it...Sometimes it's easier for him than others, but nobody works harder than Blake, and I expect him to improve throughout the season, like he did last year."
Billups the point guard
We saw it for a decade straight, but Sunday's game might be the last time in a while we saw Billups play point guard, at least for an extended stretch of time, with Paul expected to return from the hamstring injury that caused him to miss five games Wednesday against the Lakers.
If that ends up being the case, it was a nice way for Billups to go out Sunday. He had 14 assists and only two turnovers in 31 minutes, shooting poorly but passing the ball excellently.
"Chauncey's going to read the game," Del Negro said Sunday. "Sometimes we're going to need him to be more aggressive offensively, but he picks his spots. We had a good rhythm going offensively, so he was making plays for us."
He'll still have the opportunity to make plays when Paul returns, but not nearly as many. And he might need an extra bit of time to adjust back to the shooting guard position after he spent this week practicing at the point, pretty much.
The last time Billups recorded as many as 14 assists in a single game? Dec. 2, 2008, as a member of the Denver Nuggets, against the same Toronto Raptors.
The Clippers announced a 10th-consecutive sellout at Sunday's game, meaning that every home game so far this season has been termed a sellout. But Staples Center looked less than full at tip-off...Forward Brian Cook was dressed for the first time in a few games after being bothered by a foot injury of late, but he did not come into the game at any point...Former Clipper forward Rasual Butler had three points in 17 minutes for the Raptors.