Jones providing energy on and off bench for Clippers
Dahntay Jones is standing out for the Clippers and making a good first impression. He’s standing out by standing up.
Jones is the new player on the bench folks have noticed who hardly uses his chair and is clapping and cheering and having a good time. That is when he’s not called on to provide reserve minutes and help on the defensive end.
The 34-year-old Jones – who’s played for seven NBA teams – is embracing his reserve role with the Clippers, even when he’s not in the game.
"It comes with being a teammate," Jones said before the Clippers 102-93 win over Boston on Monday. "I’ve learned over the years you have to cheer your teammates on. You have to be a support system for your teammates when you’re in the game and out of the game. You have to lose yourself in the overall concept of what winning is and what the overall goal is and that’s winning a championship and winning and putting a great effort on the court."
The Clippers’ traded Chris Douglas-Roberts and Reggie Bullock and before that Jared Cunningham in order to provide some stability and better depth on the bench.
Chris Paul said he’s liked the energy of new players Jones – who was signed to a 10-day contract – and Austin Rivers, who came here via trade from Boston. Paul played against Jones in college when he was at Wake Forest and Jones at Duke.
"He’s been great. I’ve known Dahntay for a long time," Chris Paul said. "He went to that other ACC school. We joke about it all the time. Dahntay is one of those guys, where, whatever team he was on, he always guarded me. He’s selfless. He does whatever the team needs you to do, and he’s one of those guys that actually gets excited about it. It’s good to have him around."
Before his arrival, Jones saw the report that the Clippers didn’t like each other – which the Clippers refuted – so he wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Jones likes what he’s seen in the locker room. He shares a locker next to Austin Rivers.
And Austin Rivers has scored his first bucket, on a layup. And guess who was on his feet? Steve Ballmer. #Clippers
— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) January 19, 2015
"It over-exceeded my expectations," Jones said. "I didn’t know these guys were such great guys. They’re good guys of character but (also) guys who are funny who work well and mesh well and who care about each other. They play extremely hard and communicate well. I didn’t know this team was like that."
Jones seems to have sported a good attitude all season, even when playing for the NBA Developmental League’s Mad Ants in Indiana. He said one day it was 6 degrees outside and Jones estimated that it was 25 degrees inside while they were practicing. He said the coach ended up calling the practice off because it was too cold.
"Those are things you’re fighting. You’re fighting the elements," Jones said. "You’re fighting not having as many resources, but at the end of the day, it’s still basketball."
Jones found out he was on his way to the Clippers via a 10-day contract in the middle of a game Jan. 13. A car service picked him up for a two-hour drive through snow to Indianapolis where he had an early flight.
"I didn’t sleep at all. I was fine with it," Jones said.
He arrived in Portland about 2 p.m. and was on the bench waving that towel and cheering on new teammates Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan less than six hours later.
"I wasn’t told anything (about chemistry). I was told to come out here and play defense and basically provide that on the court," Jones said. "That’s what you get when you get Dahntay Jones. You get a guy who’s going to go and cheer his teammates on and talk on the bench and on the court, trying to help defensively on the court. And when I get on the bench I’m trying to talk through things.
— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) January 19, 2015
"… It was great to see when the second unit went into the game, now they’re cheering for us. Sometimes, if they don’t feel like they’re supported then they’ll come and do the same thing on the bench. I get it. I understand. Then when we went in the game you had DeAndre up, Blake up, CP up. That’s great to be able to look to them and get energy from them, enjoy this game a little more when you see your teammates have your back."
His bench game hasn’t gone unnoticed – nor could it – by Doc Rivers.
"He’s been unbelievable on the sidelines just keeping guys involved," Rivers said. "Our sideline, our bench, the last two games is hilarious. But they’ve been active, very loud.
— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) January 20, 2015
"Three or four times in the Sacramento game, the refs asked them to sit down, which I’ve always had a problem with to tell guys to stop being emotional, sit down. Don’t get involved. Our guys didn’t listen much either. Dahntay has been the leader of that. So that’s been good. But at the end of the day you want good basketball. That’s going to be the difference."
Jones’ 10-day contract will expire soon but he could be signed to another 10-day contract. He’s trying not to think about it.
"This is my first time," Jones said of this situation. "It’s definitely a little nerve-racking at times, I won’t lie to you. But I just have to lose myself into this cause and winning and what we’re trying to do and I won’t have to worry about it. It helps me not worry about what I’m going through as a person and worry about the team is going through."
And providing all that energy on and off the bench.