Eric Patten @ericpatten | 4/4/12

LOS ANGELES - From the opening tip, it was apparent the Lakers were willing to let Caron Butler shoot.

And with abandon, the Clipper veteran obliged. He fired away from the corners, the elbow, the perimeter, and drove to the rim. And for much of the first half, Butler made almost everything, keeping the Clippers within striking distance of their intra-city rival.

It was a season-best evening for Butler, who matched his Clipper high with 23 points in the first half to lead all scorers. He finished with a team-high 28 points on 9-of-18 from the field, 4-for-8 from 3-point distance, and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. It was the most free throws he's made all season and the first time he's topped 20 points in a game since Feb. 15.

  • Butler getting back on track
  • "Caron had a fantastic game for us," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He was very aggressive and looked great. He had a good bounce to his game."

    The 32-year-old small forward was scintillating in the second quarter. He was perfect from 3-point range (3-of-3) and scored half of the Clippers' 26 points. In some respects he kept the Clippers offense afloat. He scored all 13 of his points in the final three minutes of the half off assists from Chris Paul and Randy Foye, matching jumpers from Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant on the other end, and four free throws.

    "Caron was just moving without the ball and he hit a lot of tough shots, too," Paul said. "That's what he does and we're going to need him to keep doing that."

    The Clippers are 8-4 since March 1 when Butler tops double figures in scoring.

    Despite struggling for several weeks midway through the season, he's coming on recently. Butler said Monday that he's finally feeling completely comfortable with his surgically repaired right knee, something that experts say often takes as long as a year to regain confidence. Butler ruptured his patellar tendon in January 2011 while with the Dallas Mavericks.

    His newfound comfort level has been evident recently. He's averaged 15 points over his last five games, including Wednesday's effort against the Lakers.

    blog comments powered by Disqus