After trailing by 21 points, the Clippers, led by a group of mostly reserves, were showing signs of life. According to head coach Vinny Del Negro, the team was finally giving the crowd “something to get excited about.”
But as the comeback attempt ensued, the simple chant became more battle cry. What started as a 7-2 run at the end of the third morphed into an onslaught with Evans emphatically leading the way.
Evans and backup guard Eric Bledsoe, who averaged less than seven minutes per game on the Clippers’ recent six-game road trip, changed Sunday night’s game against Warriors.
“Reggie and Eric Bledsoe both were unbelievable,” said Blake Griffin, who was the only starter among the group that included Evans, Bledsoe, Bobby Simmons, and Mo Williams. “The energy they brought. Reggie’s rebounding and defense. Eric’s defense and how he can get out in the open floor and push the ball. They were both fantastic for us today.”
The Clippers’ 26-7 run started with Evans making a layup diving to the rim off a feed from Williams. He finished up with a season-high 11 points, including a left-handed layup and a tip in off offensive rebounds.
More: Postgame Recap: Clippers 93, Warriors 97
Golden State head coach Mark Jackson called two timeouts during the stretch. Both ended with Evans hopping to the Clippers bench waving his arms in delight.
“I was really just happy to play,” Evans said. “I just wanted to take advantage, take advantage of the crowd. A lot of people work hard for their money to pay for these tickets and they want to see some players go out there and go hard. And that was the main thing, just go out there and just play our butts off.”
“It’s real easy when you lock in mentally, focus and go hard.”
Somewhat like a dual-cell battery, Bledsoe equaled Evans’ energy off the bench. He played the entire fourth quarter, his longest on-court stretch of the season, pestering Nate Robinson and Monta Ellis as they brought ball up the court, flying around to grab rebounds and keep plays alive on both ends, and helping create for his teammates on the offensive end.
“I kind of feed off the crowd and take it from there,” Bledsoe said.
The athletic guard was credited with four steals, but must have disrupted a Golden State players’ dribble or stepped into a passing lane another dozen times. With the score tied at 83, he drew an offensive foul on Ellis, who shoved Bledsoe in the chest trying to get free away from the ball.
A minute later, after Ellis gave Golden State a two-point lead with a reverse layup, Brandon Rush drove to the hoop, and somewhat fittingly, Bledsoe and Evans converged to swipe the ball on the baseline.
“I thought Eric Bledsoe gave us a huge lift,” Del Negro said. “I thought Reggie Evans came in and gave us a huge lift. With their energy and their effort, they got us back in the game.”