Clippers start road swing against Nets
NEW YORK -- In the last week, Lou Williams hit the game-winning layup in overtime to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, scored the last 10 points in overtime to knock off Golden State and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to defeat San Antonio.
It was just another week of timely performances for the two-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year, whose 597 fourth-quarter points led the NBA last season and whose 21.9 points per game were the most by a reserve since 1989-90.
Williams is averaging 8.1 points in the fourth quarter, only outdone by LeBron James, who averages 8.2. At 19.4 points, Williams also is ahead of J.J. Redick and Julius Randle in the scoring race among reserve players.
Williams has scored in double digits in his last 58 games as a reserve since Dec. 3, 2017. It is the longest streak of any bench player since 1983-84 and it is helping Los Angeles average 55.2 points from its reserves, the most in the league.
"I don't process it like that," Williams said. "I just think we're in a good space right now collectively. That's how I process it. I don't get really wrapped up in what I am doing."
The 14-year veteran helped the Clippers win three close games by averaging 20 points on 44.1 percent shooting (19 of 43).
"It's a good experience for us, especially early in the season," Williams said. "It'll be worth our while late in the season."
On Thursday, he helped Los Angeles to a 116-111 win over San Antonio by pump-faking before hitting a 3-pointer as Spurs guard Bryn Forbes defended him. Williams led the Clippers with 23 points and has been their leading scorer in five games so far.
"He's definitely the best sixth man in the NBA," Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said. "When you go out there and do what he does, it just seems effortless. It is amazing to see what he does."
The showings by Williams helped the Clippers win for the fifth time in six games and now they will look to keep it going while playing 11 of the next 15 on the road. Los Angeles is 2-4 away from home though Williams is averaging 21.8 points and shooting 48.3 percent in away games as compared with 17.5 and 36.4 percent at home.
Besides winning the sixth man award last season, Williams won it in 2014-15 with the Atlanta Hawks when Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant for Mike Budenholzer.
The Nets will play their third game since losing leading scorer Caris LeVert to a dislocated right foot in the final seconds of the first half Monday in Minnesota. In the first game without LeVert, the Nets never led and took a 120-107 home loss to Miami on Wednesday, but on Friday they snapped a three-game losing streak with a 115-104 victory at Washington.
"It feels good because of those circumstances," Atkinson said. "You want to confirm that we can still be a good team. We love Caris, we miss him, but we've got some good players in that locker room."
Allen Crabbe has started the last two games in place of LeVert in the backcourt alongside D'Angelo Russell but scored six points in 20 minutes. Reserve Spencer Dinwiddie, who led the Nets with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and 15 of 16.
Russell added 23 points.
Questions will continue about Russell and Dinwiddie starting together, but the Nets will hope to piece together another strong defensive performance. With Jarrett Allen back after missing two games with an illness, the Nets held the Wizards to 32 percent shooting after halftime and allowed Washington to make 3 of 17 3-point attempts, lowering their opponents' 3-point shooting percentage to .341.
"We just kept with our principles, kept with our habits," Atkinson said. "I'm just really pleased with the defensive performance. They got out early, made some tough shots, but we liked where we were with our tactics."
Both teams bring injury questions into the game.
For Los Angeles, Avery Bradley (left ankle sprain) is questionable and may miss his sixth straight game. For the Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may sit a second straight game with a sprained right ankle.
Los Angeles is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings with Brooklyn. Williams scored 20 points in a 13-point win at Brooklyn on Feb. 12 and 21 points in a 123-120 home win on March 4.