September 8, 2020
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first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Even laid-back Lou Williams, the smooth rapper-hooper who last season was teased by teammates for the “weakest” of celebrations after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, even he found himself exerting extra emotion on the court Wednesday.Without fans in the bubble infusing an arena with life, cultivating that energy will fall to the players – and they felt it Wednesday, Williams said after helping lead the Clippers to a win in their first scrimmage with 22 points off the bench.“It was definitely an interesting environment,” said Williams, a slight rasp in his voice, after the Clippers’ 99-90 victory over the Orlando Magic at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. “We had some fun with creating energy for ourselves on the bench and being able to talk things out on the floor.“It forces you as a team to be involved through and through, from the coaching staff to the guys on the floor to the players on the bench. It will force everybody to create energy for themselves to be all on the same page and just create some momentum for yourselves. … “This is the most vocal I’ve been forced to be during a game,” Williams added. “Usually when fans are communicating or yelling and screaming things and celebrating, this is an opportunity for me to get back in the game. I wasn’t allowed to do that. That’s different and that’s interesting.” Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime Having Noah on board ought to help in that regard; the high-energy, high-IQ veteran big man stepped in at starting center and contributed right away Wednesday, with four points, five rebounds and three assists and some positive mojo in his first 15 minutes as a Clipper.Adding Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell’s typical top-flight intensity figures to pay off too, whenever those players return to the court after stepping away from the bubble to attend to personal matters.But it’ll take more than three vocal characters to propel a team toward a championship inside the relatively sparse confines of the bubble – despite the league’s attempt to replicate some of the usual elements with music and some piped-in crowd sound.Rivers observed some of that togetherness taking hold Wednesday, he said.“Early on, all the players sat in their seats (spaced out on the bench), and as the game went on, everyone was together,” he said. “That’s the only thing that we’re probably going to have to change a little bit is the bench seating; it’s not like we are next to each other every day in practice or practicing against each other every day. So it’s just a natural thing that the players are going to start being around each other, and I thought that was great.“Overall, I thought our spirit was great, in the game, and one of the things that is new is you can hear your teammates cheering for you and talking on the floor.“I thought that was OK.”SIXTH MAN CONSIDERATIONIt’s arguably a three-man race for Sixth Man of the Year – and Williams argues it shouldn’t be.“I was looking at the predictions that everybody was tagging me in (on Twitter) and I was a little disappointed because Trezz, he made history,” Williams said. “Over the years, we’ve made history, and we’re on the No. 2 team in the West. We’ve sacrificed and we’ve still been able to be successful. And as for conversation, (for) whatever reason, we are not one of the top guys in that conversation. I thought that was a little weird, but I feel like we both deserve it.”Williams (18.7 points per game) and Harrell (18.6) are on track to become the first duo in NBA history to average 17-plus points per game off the bench. Their contributions give the Clippers the highest-scoring bench in the league again this season – with an average of 51.5 points per game, after the team’s reserves accounted for 53.2 points per game a season ago.Related Articles What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Surmised new Clipper Joakim Noah: “A lot of teams say that slogan, ‘We all we got.’ But, in this environment, it’s gonna be key to really be there for each other.” For his part, the 26-year-old Harrell is having a career year, including becoming the first Clipper with 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds off the bench in a win over Washington on Dec. 1.But Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schröder has made a case too, averaging 19 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game off the bench in his second year with the team.Williams, though, believes the Sixth Man crown he’s worn for two consecutive seasons should remain in L.A.: “I really would love to share that award with Trezz, and if not share it, I say give it to him outright.”last_img