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.
“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.