Los Angeles Clippers reserves finally in sync as playoffs approach

first_imgSpeights and Bass each added 10 points off the bench, while Felton earned praise for running the group.“They just spaced the floor so well and they just spaced the floor by ball movement,” Doc Rivers said. “It was good.”It was the kind of performance the Clippers (43-29) will need from their “other guys” if they hope to find success in the playoffs, even if the Lakers presented far from a playoff-caliber challenge. Tonight, they face the Dallas Mavericks, who are fighting for the eighth seed.The Clippers have the NBA’s fifth-highest scoring bench, at 39.3 points per game.Wednesday marked the second straight game that Austin Rivers and Crawford both played well. It’s an important offensive combination to the Clippers, and one that often is either/or, rather than both. “What I like about both of them is they have figured out how to give each other room,” Doc Rivers said. “They’ve had a lot of games actually where they both have big games. What it does is it just gives us more scoring. That’s really nice off the bench, when you have two guys that are 16, 20. You’re at 40 with two guys before you start.”Austin Rivers has started 28 games this season because of injuries, and the times he and Crawford were not paired in the backcourt disrupted their chemistry.“We weren’t used to playing with each other for a long time,” Austin Rivers said. “Now we’re getting back to used to playing with each other. So it’s all good.”The danger, of course, is putting too much weight on a blowout over a lowly opponent. The Clippers have won three straight and are back in the mix for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason.“You can get a rhythm from games like this,” said Clippers guard J.J. Redick, significantly more upbeat than one week ago when he was critical of the team after a loss in Denver.While he said he doesn’t believe they have “turned a corner” – a concept he doesn’t believe in – he does see progress.“We’re headed in the right direction,” he said, “whereas a week ago I think we were – I’m not saying we were headed in the wrong direction – we were just meandering, aimlessly.” DALLAS >> The Clippers spent much of last summer prioritizing improving their bench. They added Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton and Brandon Bass. Paul Pierce committed for another year.Recently, however, with the Clippers swooning, you would have been hard-pressed to know that the second unit was supposed to be a strength.Then on Tuesday night against the Lakers, the reserves were far from reserved. Led by 18 points from Austin Rivers and 15 from Jamal Crawford, the Clippers bench scored 57 of the team’s season high-tying 133 points.“In the past, when the starters have played well the bench will come in and think it’s an offensive contest,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “(Wednesday) they came in and got stops and realized when they get stops they score even more.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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