Contemplating the possibility that there might be a downside to Blake Griffin’s return seemed like a silly endeavor.
It was just that J.J. Redick had been so productive during Griffin’s five-week absence that one had to wonder how the shooting guard would respond to having the Clippers’ leading scorer back in the lineup.
He hasn’t changed a thing.
Redick continued his shooting tear Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena during the Clippers’ 116-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings, swishing jumper after jumper.
The sharpshooter finished with 27 points on nine-for-16 shooting, making seven of 12 shots from three-point range. He even completed a four-point play in the fourth quarter after being fouled by Ben McLemore.
“J.J.'s probably the best shooter I’ve ever played with, man,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said.
Paul had another strong all-around game with 30 points, 11 assists and only two turnovers for the Clippers (44-25), who remained in a tie with the Dallas Mavericks for fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
Clippers small forward Hedo Turkoglu enjoyed a retro night, the onetime King greeted by cheers during player introductions before scoring a season-high 19 points.
The Kings were within four points midway through the fourth quarter when three-pointers by Turkoglu, Paul and Redick helped the Clippers extend their lead to 11. The Clippers made 17 three-pointers to the Kings’ three.
“I feel like I’m in a good rhythm,” said Redick, who has averaged 21.7 points over his last nine games. “I’m getting shots but I’m not forcing shots, so it’s a good rhythm to have.”
Forward Rudy Gay had 23 points for the Kings, who were missing injured starters DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison.
Griffin had 19 points and 10 rebounds in his third game back from the absence caused by surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow. He switched from the custom white protective sleeve he had worn over the elbow in recent games to a black one devoid of padding to remain color coordinated with his teammates and avoid a league fine for non-uniformity.
“If something had happened I would have had a problem with the NBA,” Griffin said, “but we were good.”
A more important stylistic change may have been the 15-foot jumper Griffin made in the first half, something he had struggled with in his first two games back as he rebuilds strength in his arm. Griffin made seven of 16 shots.
Turkoglu started a second consecutive game in place of Matt Barnes, who remained sidelined by a strained hamstring. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said there was a chance Barnes could return Friday against the Washington Wizards.
Less clear is the timetable for the return of sixth man Jamal Crawford, who has missed the Clippers’ last eight games because of a deep calf bruise.
The Clippers’ bench continued to struggle without its top scorer, combining for 15 points against the Kings. Rivers said the team continued to monitor forward Jordan Hamilton’s sprained ankle to see if it would heal sufficiently for him to rejoin the team.
The Clippers had just enough Wednesday thanks to Redick and Turkoglu, the reserve turned starter … and savior who scored in double figures for only the third time this season.
“Any night you go out there and do something good for the team,” Turkoglu said, “it means a lot. You really feel like you’re part of the team.”