BENCH AT ITS BEST AT FULL STRENGTH
LOS ANGELES – Finally at full strength, the Clippers’ bench looked like they were projected to two months ago.
That was when Danny Granger and Glen Davis were brought in to solidify a group that already included Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison. Hedo Turkolgu at that time was still finding his way, less than six weeks after playing his first game of the season on Jan. 17.
All five of the Clippers’ reserves played a role in turning Monday night’s Game 2 of their opening round Playoff series against the Golden State Warriors into the largest postseason rout in franchise history.
Crawford, who struggled to a 2-for-10 afternoon in Game 1, scored nine points on 4-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes and had three assists. Granger had 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including making three 3-pointers, before fouling out with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter. Turkoglu had 13 points. Davis had four. And Collison scored 12 points with a career-postseason high 10 assists.
“I thought our bench tonight was fantastic,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “Great in the second quarter, obviously great in the fourth quarter. They shot the ball well. They defended. And that’s what we need the bench to do.”
While in the past, including last season when the Clippers’ reserves were among the league’s most prolific units, they have relied on Crawford to score in bunches, Monday night was about balance. They had 58 points overall from their bench. And got exactly what they needed from each member of the five-man unit.
Crawford was the scorer he always has been, orchestrating his own brand of offense with more action off the dribble than he’s shown since before he strained his left calf in February. Granger looked more comfortable a game removed from his first run since Mar. 27. He used his length in the post and his spot up ability on the perimeter. Collison, who like Crawford struggled in Game 1, had five assists in his first seven minutes, balancing his time on the floor as a distributor, scoring threat, and defensive pest. Davis drew a charge and Turkoglu spaced the floor.
“It was the perfect storm,” Crawford said. “It went exactly how it should have went. We played off each other. It started with defense. And we played off each other. We let starters gain the lead and didn’t want to lose it.”
They were particularly impactful in the second quarter when they spurted ahead by 21 points as part of a 19-9 run that included three consecutive 3-pointers by Crawford, Turkoglu and Granger. While the Clippers’ starters returned to bury Golden State in the third quarter, the bench closed the game, something that could be valuable down the road.
“We’re all veterans, so chemistry is going to come,” Crawford said.
Granger, who made his Clippers debut on Mar. 4 and did not play in the team’s final nine regular season games, said that the veteran-laded unit makes it easier for the pieces to fit.
“When you’re coming off the bench you have a certain role,” Granger said. “Tonight, we hit and we were hitting on all cylinders. We have so many weapons, and veterans, coming off the bench one of us has to get going at one point.”