Ryan Hollins
Ryan Hollins

ORLANDO – After nearly every game, home or on the road, Ryan Hollins ducks away for a few minutes to put in a workout that mimics what he may have received if he had made an appearance on the court.

He'll run, lift, get up shots with an assistant coach. Something. 

It’s part of what Hollins equates to being a professional, a part of staying ready. The NBA season, in its breadth, demands it.

With the Clippers (35-16) missing their top three scorers due to injury and desperate for something positive, Hollins’ readiness helped reroute the course of Wednesday’s 86-76 win over the Orlando Magic. 

“That was big,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You win and lose as a team and his number was called. He gave us great energy tonight, was very productive, and it was great to see him help us win a game.”

Hollins entered the game to start the second quarter, playing alongside Ronny Turiaf in the Clippers’ frontcourt. It was just the 18th time in 51 games Hollins has come in during the first half.

For the road-weary Clippers, it was a needed jolt. Hollins provided fresh legs. He bounced around on defense, protected the interior, took a charge, and flew to the rim on offense. He scored on his first three field goal attempts, driving down the center of the lane for a two-handed dunk and drawing a foul, punching in an offensive rebound over the top of Turiaf and a defender, and canning a 14-foot jumper from a hair inside the free throw line.

He paired with DeAndre Jordan, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds, for a few stretches and opened the fourth quarter with a driving finger roll to give the Clippers a nine-point lead. The two-center lineup of Jordan and Hollins has been used by Del Negro for 10 total minutes all season.

“It takes some getting used to [playing alongside Jordan], but I know D.J.,” Hollins said. “We’ve kind of been around each other for a while. I play four and five, so playing alongside him I kind of take [Lamar Odom] or Ronny [Turiaf’s] role when I’m in there.”

Hollins finished with season highs in points (13), rebounds (eight) and minutes (24). It was only the third time in the 28-year-old’s seven-year career that he produced at least 13 points and eight rebounds on the same night. And it came at the most unexpected time.  

In the last 16 games, Hollins has not played a second in 11 of them and was called upon for a combined four minutes in two others. He was on the court for as many minutes Wednesday as he was in all of January.

Hollins’ teammates gave him credit for his preparedness and make an immediate impact on such short notice.

 “It’s hard because he hasn’t played in a long time,” Grant Hill said. “He’s a professional. He stayed ready and came in and gave us a spark. We’re going to need that.”

“He’s there every off day working out,” said Jamal Crawford, who missed the game with a sore right shoulder. “He stays ready and he’s always encouraging us so we’re all happy for him.”

Hollins thinks reciprocal encouragement from the starters and coaching staff makes sporadic playing time easier to handle, but he added that it comes with the territory of being a professional.

“It’s my job to stay ready,” Hollins said. “Even though I’m not in the game or being seen, I have a job and an obligation to not sit on my butt and get in here early and work. My goal is I try to work just as hard as the guys who played in the game. Afterwards you might see me go on a run or do something to get up shots. I try to equate what they do as best I can even though I’m not playing.”