ROOKIE BULLOCK TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY
MINNEAPOLIS – Rookie Reggie Bullock felt the pressure of missing the first six 3-pointers of his NBA career. It mounted enough for six misses to feel like 100.
On Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves with reserve forward Matt Barnes out with an eye injury, the sharp-shooting forward finally saw one go through the net.
“It definitely felt really good, knowing that I missed like my last 100 attempts,” Bullock said. “But at the same time, I was just confident coming here and being able to know that Matt was out and I would be able to get some minutes and produce at that position.”
Bullock, who was selected No. 25 in the 2012 NBA Draft, was a 3-point ace at North Carolina only a few months ago. He’s never lacked in confidence. But his first six 3-pointers as a professional went awry and the last two he had taken before Wednesday night had virtually touched every portion of the rim before clanging out.
“When you’re a shooter and you see that many misses,” Bullock said, “you expect for them to be a lot more misses than they really are. Once I see one go down, I’ll continue to shoot the ball.”
And he did, converting another 3-pointer from nearly an identical spot in the right corner at Target Center that he hit the first one. But according to Head Coach Doc Rivers, Bullock should pull the trigger with even less hesitation, especially after turning down an opportunity to make a third 3-pointer in a row early in the second quarter.
“I got mad at Reggie,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Never take yourself out of a great game. You make two in a row and then you pump fake three times in a row?’ Now, I should pump fake, I couldn’t shoot. But Reggie? If he’s wide open on the third one and then he pump fakes. I said, ‘I’ll take you out, but don’t take yourself out.’
“Let me say this when Jamal [Crawford] was a rookie he would have taken that three. J.J. Redick would’ve taken that third one. And Reggie has that shooting ability. He should have taken the third one. I’m never going to get mad at a guy for missing his shot.”
Overall, though, Rivers praised Bullock for his performance in only the rookie’s second game with extended minutes.
“He did everything else great,” Rivers said. “He moved the ball. He rebounded the ball. He got in there defensively. I told you before he’s a terrific defender.”
Bullock finished with a career-high six points, going 2-for-2 from 3-point range in the Clippers’ 102-98 victory. With Barnes not available Thursday night in Oklahoma City, Bullock is likely to see more playing time. He faced the Thunder for the first time last week, guarding Kevin Durant for a spell while several Clippers were in foul trouble.
Ultimately, that’s exactly what Bullock is expected to do, defend and stretch out defenses.
“I know that I’m a shooter and that’s what they want me to do, come in and space the floor and play defense,” Bullock said. “That’s what I did in college and when I get this opportunity I just have to continue to do it. With Matt being down, I just have to step right in and keep that second unit going like Matt did.”
Wednesday night in Minneapolis was a good start.