DUDLEY MAKING INCREMENTAL STRIDES

PLAYA VISTA – While dealing with right knee tendinitis for much of the season, Jared Dudley has operated at well below peak health.

However, after playing through pain and stiffness and utilizing as much downtime as possible for rest, Dudley says he is about “90 percent.”

“It’s hard to improve 100 percent when you’re playing,” Dudley said. “But it’s something that I can work through and definitely go. You’re hoping by the All-Star break you get those four or five days where you have nothing and you can focus on that.”

It has been somewhat of a frustrating season for the seventh-year forward, who was acquired this summer along with J.J. Redick in a three-team trade. He has put together some brilliant stretches, including scoring 14 points or more in four of five games from Dec. 14-22 and shooting 14-for-28 (50 percent) from 3-point range since the first of the year.

But Dudley has also had some lengthy stretches where he has struggled to contribute. He’s had two scoreless games and went nearly two weeks without scoring more than 10 points from Nov. 27 to Dec. 12. That’s when his knee was feeling its worst.

“For me, it’s how you move laterally defensively,” Dudley said when asked how the tendinitis affects him. “It’s how you shoot the ball sometimes. Some days you feel good and it’s not consistent every day. Sometimes it’s when you have those four games in five nights or the back-to-backs where a little bit more you need that rest.”

He said early in the season he considered asking for some time off, but felt obligated to play because of the absences of Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick, who both missed upwards of a month with injuries.

Now Dudley’s feeling better and with Redick back in the starting lineup next to him, things could get steadier on the court. Out of every member of the Clippers roster, perhaps, Dudley gains the most from getting Redick’s return from a 21-game absence.

Dudley, who is averaging 8.9 points on 45.1 percent shooting in 39 games, says he benefits from more open looks from Redick’s presence.

“For me personally, he’s someone where I can read him when he comes off his screens and try to space out,” he said. “On the break we’re both someone who likes to go and most of the time you’re going to pick going to him because of what he’s done. There are probably a lot more open looks than you’d normally get.”

It’s something that trickles down to the entire team. Dudley and Redick have shared the court for 368 minutes this season and the Clippers have a plus-minus of +89.

“I think for everyone there’s a lot more balance,” Dudley said. “He’s someone who puts a lot of pressure on the defense off of his stuff. He makes the best wing defender have to guard him and kind of tires them out. So, hopefully on the offensive end they struggle more. I mean, he’s another explosive weapon that makes even deeper.”

 

READ MORE: JORDAN WANTS TO BE AN ALL-STAR »