Mo Williams Near Perfect in Return to Lineup
Eric Patten, | 1/18/12

Mo Williams squatted down at midcourt with his arms spread out along the red pad atop the scorer’s table at Staples Center, looking somewhat like a plane in a holding pattern.

He waited to enter the game for the first time since playing through a sore right foot for 21 minutes a week ago against the Miami Heat. After sitting out three straight games, including Tuesday’s 29-point loss at Utah, Williams made a near-perfect return.

Click to see photos from the game vs. Dallas
He scored in bundles, sparked the fast break, directed traffic, guarded former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry, and in general helped energize a Clippers team that looked lethargic at times a night earlier.

“This is the third game of a back-to-back-to-back and after watching those guys yesterday, I knew it was going to be tough on them today,” Williams said. “I just wanted to come and give us some energy to help the team out instead of watching those guys out there busting their behind.”

Williams checked in at the 5:26 mark of the first quarter and two minutes later nailed 3-pointer from the left wing as the Mavericks lazily double-teamed Blake Griffin in the post. The shot initiated a 7-for-7 first half from the field that included a runner drifting across the lane to his right, a baseline fade away over Delonte West, and a two-dribble jumper from just inside the 3-point line.

“He came in with instant offense,” said forward Reggie Evans, another key member of the Clippers bench. “He wasn’t over doing it and he just took his opportunity and took advantage of it. Me coming into the game, I just like to get him open so he can get switched out on my man and hit his jumper and things like that.”

Williams scored 18 points in the first half, but it wasn’t just about his scoring punch. He broke down the Mavericks defense, which had held opponents to 86 points or fewer in six consecutive games, and created shots for his teammates. In the second quarter as Dallas’ help defender arrived to cut off Williams in the lane, he flipped the ball to DeAndre Jordan for an alley oop.

Before that he tracked down a loose ball at midcourt and as he collided with Terry managed to flip it ahead to Randy Foye, who lobbed it to Griffin for a dunk.

“We know how good of a player Mo is and how much he means to the team,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It was a big lift for us, no question.”

After missing all three shots in the third quarter, Williams caught fire again in the fourth. With the game tied at 71, he dropped in a floater and ball-faked Terry on the next possession before dribbling into a 14-footer, personally giving the Clippers a four-point lead. He finished with 26 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, on 11-of-15 shooting with four assists and two steals.

It was the fourth highest point total in Williams’ 34 games with the Clippers, accounting for nearly 30% of the team’s offensive output.

“I’m always the type of person when I get the opportunity I’m going to try and relish it and take advantage of it in the framework of winning; in the framework of team.”

After the game Williams said he did not want to make his injured foot an excuse. He wore special in-soles to help protect the injury and reluctantly switched shoes from the Kobe Bryant signature lowtop to the Lebron James VIII, both Nike products.

“I felt like I could go,” Williams said. “I gave [his foot] a good workout yesterday, so I went to bed and slept really well knowing that I had a good shot of playing today if didn’t have any setbacks when I woke up.”

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