Rookie point guard Jawun Evans brings defensive intensity that Clippers need

An improved defense has helped propel the Clippers in recent games.

And it’s not a coincidence, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, a big reason they have gotten better is because of the tough defense provided by rookie point guard Jawun Evans.

Over their last seven games before they played the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at FedExForum, the Clippers had the best defensive rating in the NBA at 98.6 points per 100 possessions.

During that span, the Clippers were the only team holding teams below 100 points per 100 possessions.

“He does play a big part of that,” Rivers said about Evans. “I think all the guys do. We’ve kind simplified things in a way. We have so many young guys and we were trying to do too much stuff. So our thought is if they know what they’re doing every night, they do it faster, they do it harder, they do it with better speed.”

For the season, the Clippers have allowed 104.5 points per 100 possessions when Evans is on the court.

His impact is felt when Evans picks up full court.

“I think Jawun’s ball pressure has been great,” Rivers said. “My entire theory on defense is the more clock you can [make the offense] use before they start, the less time they have to hurt you. And what Jawun’s doing when he’s in the game, he pressures the ball and teams are starting their offense at 13 and 12 seconds. It’s tough to score on a team in 12 seconds. And so I think that’s helped as well.”

In the last seven games, the Clippers have allowed 103.1 points per 100 possessions when Evans is on the court.

At 5 feet 11 and strong, Evans works hard on defense.

Rivers was asked what makes his rookie point guard a good defender.

“Really it’s his speed and toughness,” Rivers said. “Most good defenders are stubborn. Like a guy can beat them, a guy can hit them, he just gets back up and reintroduces himself. You think about even [Friday] night [at Houston], he got hit, he got knocked down. He just got back up and kept playing. I’ve never met a defensive player that’s not a stubborn guy when he’s playing defense.”

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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