Lou Williams thrust into bigger role for Clippers
LOS ANGELES — Lou Williams was the go-to guy when a team needed buckets from a player off the bench. He was that guy with the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Lakers and Houston Rockets. He knew his role and played it well.
In his 782 games played entering the 2017-18 season, all but 90 had been in a reserve role. He wasn’t a starter, but he was a player coaches counted on in the middle and the end of games to provide a spark with key baskets.
Williams’ game didn’t change when the Clippers acquired him from the Rockets during the offseason. The Clippers coaching staff didn’t need to spell out their expectations for him when training camp began Sept. 26. After 12 seasons in the NBA, Williams knew what was required.
But a funny thing happened in the first two games of the new season. Williams continued to shoot, of course. Not taking open shots in the NBA is a cardinal sin. Williams scored 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting in his Clippers debut and then had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting in his second game.
However, Williams also emerged as a facilitator, setting up his teammates for easy baskets. He had six assists in 24 minutes, 41 seconds in the Clippers’ opening-night victory over the Lakers and six more in 24:13 in their 42-point rout of the Phoenix Suns.
The need for more playmaking from Williams, and from all the Clippers’ guards, will be greatly enhanced while point guard Milos Teodosic is sidelined indefinitely by a plantar fascia injury in his left foot. Austin Rivers replaced Teodosic in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
Williams is up to the task, according to Patrick Beverley, a teammate with the Rockets and now with the Clippers. Williams has averaged 12.8 points […]