The team with the worst record in the NBA invaded the space of a Clippers team in their own desperate need of a victory while in the midst of dealing with a multitude of injuries.
And when the moment was gravest for the Clippers, when they were in dire need of being lifted, C.J. Williams delivered with a high-arching three-pointer with 9.1 seconds left that pushed them to a 108-107 victory over the hard-playing Atlanta Hawks on Monday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers then only escaped the 10-30 Hawks after Taurean Prince missed a shot with time running out.
After DeAndre Jordan tipped the ball away, an exhausted Lou Williams threw his hands in the air.
He had played 40 minutes 47 seconds and had given the Clippers 34 points in the process.
Then Lou Williams ran over and hugged C.J. Williams.
C.J. Williams finished with 15 points, none bigger than his third three-pointer in four attempts.
“I’ve made that shot before,” said Williams, who was five for seven from the field. “It was just a rhythm dribble to my left. Once we got the offensive rebound, I felt the momentum and I felt the excitement of the moment, so I wanted to take the three.”
C.J. Williams is on a two-way contract with the Clippers, signed to spend most of his time with their development league team, the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario.
Players on two-way contracts can spend up to 45 days on an NBA roster.
“We’re going to start a ‘GoFundMe Fund’ for C.J.,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, laughing. “We need some donations.
“C.J. took that shot with confidence. I was actually yelling, ‘We don’t need the three.’ But you could just see he was comfortable and he wanted it.”
Jordan, who had 25 points and 18 rebounds, was fouled three consecutive times in the last 2:04 of the game. Jordan made five of six free throws to pull the Clippers to within 105-104.
“I thought D.J. was a silent hero,” Rivers said. “They intentionally fouled him and he made them.”
Then Jawun Evans picked up Malcolm Delaney full court, forcing the Hawks into committing an offensive foul.
Evans made the first of two free throws to tie the score 105-105, but on his second attempt, Wesley Johnson was called for offensive goaltending, wiping away his tip-in with 1:05 left.
After playing good defense, a visibly tired Lou Williams missed two inside shots, leaving the score tied 105-105.
But C.J. Williams wouldn’t let the Clippers lose this game, his last shot the best shot of his short NBA career.
“I got into my rhythm and I dribbled and I shot it and I shot it with confidence,” he said. “As soon as I let it go, I knew it was good.”