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Wesley Johnson provides spark for Clippers as a starter

Clippers guard Wesley Johnson guards Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari during a game in Denver on Nov. 24.

Clippers guard Wesley Johnson guards Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari during a game in Denver on Nov. 24.

(Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

Wesley Johnson was animated long before tipoff.

He smiled while seated at his locker and answered instantaneously when asked if it would be exciting to make his first start for the Clippers.

“Hell yeah, it’s exciting,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Johnson was bouncy in the early going against the Denver Nuggets, making two three-point shots in the first quarter and adding a block and a layup off a lob from Chris Paul in the second.

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The small forward finished the Clippers’ 111-94 victory Tuesday night at Pepsi Center with 11 points on four-of-six shooting to go with what was probably the craziest assist of his career.

With the shot clock winding down midway through the third quarter, Johnson flung a pass to Blake Griffin, who leaped to catch the ball and hung in the air to swish a three-pointer.

Johnson didn’t secure a permanent spot as the fifth starter given the Clippers’ constant changes at the spot.

They have used seven starting lineups, six in their last six games, as Coach Doc Rivers continues to search for better rhythm from both his starters and reserves.

“That lineup is a lineup that I’m going to keep moving, depending on guys,” Rivers said.

“I like Wes the most because of his size and his ability to shoot, but there’s nights where you play a great offensive player at that spot and we may go with a defensive guy. We’re going to just keep moving it around.”

The Clippers seemed a bit more energetic with Johnson as a starter, something he said was part of his expected role.

“Defending, knocking down shots and playing with high energy,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty simple. Just go out there and play ball.”

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Matter of trust

Austin Rivers said his teammates’ secrets are safe with him.

Should the struggling Clippers feel the need to hold a players-only meeting, Rivers said, he would not divulge what was said to his father, the team’s coach and president of basketball operations.

“If we have a players’ meeting, it’s about what the players need to say and whatever we say is going to stay in that meeting,” he said. “I’m not going to go tell my dad. … That would never happen. I would never do that.”

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But would Rivers fear his teammates wouldn’t be able to fully express themselves, compromising the authenticity of the meeting?

“If my teammates had to say something that needs to be said, they should say it,” he said. “If they said something about my pop, my father, I wouldn’t care because if it needs to be said, it needs to be said. That’s that.”

Etc.

Reserve guard Pablo Prigioni rejoined the team after sitting out the previous two games because of flu symptoms. He did not play against the Nuggets.

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Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch


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