Wesley Johnson turns up defensive intensity for Clippers
The Clippers have seen a noticeable uptick in Wesley Johnson’s aggressive approach on defense.
He appears to have unlocked all the defensive potential that he has in his athletic 6-foot-7 frame to become a force for the Clippers.
Johnson leads the team in blocked shots per game, averaging 1.1. He leads the team in steals per game, averaging 1.23.
He had six steals against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night to tie his career high, plus three blocked shots.
“I think it’s being more active, more alert, understanding the system better,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said about Johnson. “I thought he came into camp in better mental shape and physical shape. So I thought he was looking forward to having a good year and he’s doing that.”
Johnson had 30 blocks last season in 68 games. He has 48 blocks this season in 43 games.
“I definitely want to have a defensive mindset coming into the game,” Johnson said. “And then after that, I let the offense take care of itself. Throughout this team, we have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the hole. So it’s on me not to go out there and force anything and just go out there and play defense.”
The small forward has the versatility to defend multiple positions. Studying helps him remain on top of his game in various roles.
“It’s knowing the coverages, knowing where to be, knowing the plays when they call them,” Johnson said. “For me, I switch basically one through five. That definitely helps me being in the rotation and knowing who I’m switching with.
“I have to pay attention to detail. So I pay attention to everything, especially with the matchups that we have.”
Teodosic attacking more
Milos Teodosic went on the attack in the third quarter against the Grizzlies, aggressively looking for his shot.
As a result, he had nine of his career-high 18 points in the third. He went three for four from the field in the third (including two three-pointers).
“Milos was aggressive,” Rivers said of his former European pro star. “He has been aggressive, but the ball hasn’t gone in. Now it’s starting to go in for him. Teams are going under (the screen) on Milos. They don’t know his whole history. They just know his shooting percentage this year. Eventually they are going to start getting in to him.”
Lou Williams, who was not chosen to be a reserve for the All-Star team, will participate in the skills challenge at Staples Center during All-Star weekend.
AT NEW ORLEANS
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Update: The Pelicans will be without All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, who is out for the season and will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. But the Pelicans still have All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who is fourth in the NBA in scoring (26.5) and eighth in rebounding (10.4).
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