Redick Finishes Off A December To Remember

Rowan Kavner

NEW ORLEANS – Doc Rivers has witnessed J.J. Redick hot streaks. This, as Rivers put it, is at another level.

Not even halfway into the first quarter of Thursday night’s game, Redick already drilled his first three 3-pointers of the game, which would seem extraordinary if not for the tear Redick went on throughout December.

Redick entered Thursday’s matchup averaging 3.4 made 3-pointers his previous 12 games, hitting 52.6 percent of them during that stretch. He then proceeded to add to those marks by going 4-for-7 from deep.

He stopped the bleeding after the Pelicans jumped out to a 7-0 lead with his first 3-pointer from 26 feet out. Then came another. And another.

Eight minutes into the game, the Pelicans had scored 17 points, while Redick was the only Clipper in the scoring column. Yet the Clippers only trailed by four.

“We were dead,” Redick said. “This was our fifth in seven nights, all on the road, five different cities. We talked about it during the first timeout a few of us on the bench, we were just like, ‘Let’s keep it close for a while. We’ll get our energy, we’ll get our rhythm.’ We just didn’t have it at the beginning of the game, so I just wanted to be aggressive and get us going offensively.”

He did that, with each of his first three buckets coming behind the arc. Then, as the Pelicans got drawn out by his range, he started to attack. He drew a foul for his next two points and again went inside the arc for his next jumper.

That ability to attack the paint is the part of Redick’s game Rivers believes has developed the most, and when Redick’s scoring, victories aren’t far behind. Redick scored 26 points for the second straight night, helping the Clippers improve to 8-0 this season when he scores at least 20.

“We don’t see J.J. all summer, he goes to Austin, Texas, and probably sits on a back porch and fishes,” Rivers joked. “But he does something. This year, clearly he’s driving more. I think that’s what’s changed his game. He’s putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. With that shot, it’s allowing him to get free.”

Redick said driving isn’t something he consciously worked on more this summer, but he believes his physical condition and shape could play a part. That, and a developed ability to read defenses.

He’s hit at least three 3-pointers in 10 of his last 11 games, so even if teams don’t immediately close out the way they need to against Redick at the perimeter, they learn quickly what’ll happen if they sag too much.

As teams guard him more closely, Redick’s displayed the ability to put the ball on the floor, with one example coming Thursday on a layup with fewer than two minutes remaining in the first half.

That shot at the rim came less than a minute after he drilled a 20-foot jumper. He can get to the rim if he needs to, but it’s still his sharpshooting that makes the Clippers’ offensive attack go. When the ball’s moving as it has been recently, Redick’s going to get his looks.

And he’s not missing, shooting better than 47 percent from 3-point range this year after a wild December. Among the players in the top five in the league in made 3-pointers this month, Redick, who’s on pace for the best 3-point percentage in franchise history, is the only one making at least half of his attempts.

Thursday was just more of the same, when the Clippers needed it most.

“I feel like I’ve played pretty well this whole month,” Redick said. “The rhythm is there, for sure.”


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