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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Duhon dances, D'Antoni notices

By Dave McMenamin

ATLANTA -- From the creator of the "Travel Dance" we give you Chris Duhon's latest bench celebration.

Despite not playing a single second in the Los Angeles Lakers' 106-97 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, there might not have been a more animated player in purple and gold than Duhon.

The nine-year veteran broke out a cheer I hadn't seen from him before when Jodie Meeks hit a 3-pointer and again when Earl Clark connected from downtown. Once the 3s went down, it was Duhon's cue to crouch down off the bench, put one foot on the court while game action was continuing down the other end and kneel with his other leg as he straightened three fingers on each hand and pointed them toward the ground as he motioned his arms up and down over and over.

What was that exactly?

"It's just something we did in Orlando, Quentin Richardson and I," Duhon said. "We were a rock band. We both had the guitars and J.J. [Redick] was on the drums and we always did that for 3s."

Duhon didn't have a name for his dance on Tuesday (although I think "Ooh-three wally wally, ooh-three bang bang" would be ridiculous enough to work) but said it wasn't as wild as he can get.

"That was kind of our subtle one," Duhon said. "You'll see us do the air guitars. It was just something that would always keep us into the game."

It has been tough for Duhon to actually get in the game recently. After starting nine games for the Lakers this season when Steve Nash and Steve Blake were out because of injuries, he received a DNP-CD in eight of the Lakers' last 10 games coming into Wednesday.

While D'Antoni hasn't called Duhon's number recently, he has noticed his bench contributions when he goes back to look at game tape.

"That's huge. We watch that very closely as coaches," D'Antoni said. "I've even showed it in front of the team. What they do on the bench and how they react and the atmosphere they create, that's huge. That's not overlooked. That's important."

D'Antoni looped in rookie center Robert Sacre with his praise of Duhon, who just so happens to be Duhon's cousin.

"He's perfect and he could be upset that I'm not playing him a little bit, because he's good," D'Antoni said of Duhon. "He can run the team. But he's the first guy in there, he's offering suggestions, he's watching the film, he's talking to guys and a lot of times guys take teaching from other players a lot easier than from coaches. They want to hear another voice.

"He's good. And he's the first guy up off the bench and laughing when you should laugh, because sometimes you can be silly. He’s serious and he just puts a positive spin, as [does] Robert."

Duhon averaged a respectable 6.9 points and 5.4 assists as a starter, while shooting 42.1 percent on his 3-point attempts and wants to be playing again, but is enjoying the experience as much as possible.

"I just think that we like to have fun," Duhon said. "This is a game. You enjoy it and grew up loving it and playing it. You always got to have fun with it. That's kind of how you take the approach. It just shows that you're into the game. Those guys, if you're just sitting there and you looked bored -- even if you're not playing or you'd like to be playing whatever minutes -- you're still into the game, they're still your teammates and you want to root for them as much as possible."

Duhon has one year remaining on his contract with the Lakers after this season, set to pay him $3.9 million. Not bad work if you can get it. Why not enjoy it?

"Even if you're not getting the minutes you want to play, every day you get to see the special things that Dwight [Howard] does and Kobe [Bryant] does and you get to see them up close and personal every day," Duhon said. "Get to know them on a different level and you get paid for doing something you love."

And fans get to see Duhon do some pretty "special" things on the bench as well.