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Clippers reserves proud to be members of the Goon Squad

Clippers reserves proud to be members of the Goon Squad
Clippers forward Blake Griffin, middle, and guard Lou Williams, right, cheer on the team in the final moments of the Clippers' win against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday at Staples Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers' bench players refer to themselves collectively as the Goon Squad. And it's a group they're proud to be part of.

So when a rash of injuries forced coach Doc Rivers to raid his bench for starters, Rivers said some members playfully resisted.

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"I've had guys [say], 'I don't want to start. I want to stay with the Goon Squad,' " Rivers said after Saturday's 126-105 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Lou Williams is one of those. So even though he's the team's leading scorer and has started the last four games, he's still a Goonie at heart.

"I am the leader of the Goon Squad. Yet and still," he said after scoring a game-high 26 points Saturday, his 12th consecutive game with at least 21 points. "I've started, what, six games this season? [Actually 11]. So I can't really call myself a starter. I'm still a bench guy."

Rivers said Goon Squad members must follow a certain creed that requires them never to talk about one another's weaknesses, focusing instead on their strengths. And that's engendered a camaraderie that had made the team different.

"We've got a great team to coach," he said. "I don't know if I've had this much fun in years."

Speaking of the Clippers' bench, that's where DeAndre Jordan, dressed in a blue Clippers hoodie, found himself Saturday. Which must have seemed strange since he's missed only one other game since 2016.

But Rivers anticipated Jordan's visit to the bench because of a sprained ankle would be a short one.

"I can't guarantee it," he said. "[But] he wanted to play today."

Also on the bench for the first time in a long while was guard Patrick Beverley, who rejoined the team while recovering from November surgery on his right knee. At the time the surgery was said to be season-ending but Beverley, who is now walking without crutches, is hopeful of getting back on the court this spring.

"I'm not a doctor," he said. "There's a chance."

Beverley said he hopes to begin traveling with the team next month.

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