As he stood before the media inside a quiet Clippers locker room, the pain in his voice and on his face after his team had been eliminated from the playoff race by the Denver Nuggets on Saturday afternoon, Lou Williams was asked if he deserved to be selected the NBA's sixth man of the year.
"Um," Williams began, "yes."
It would be hard to argue with Williams, who won the award with the Toronto Raptors in 2015 and has had an even better season this year, his first with the Clippers.
He leads the Clippers in scoring (22.5 points) and assists (5.3), career highs for both. Williams has the highest scoring average of any bench player in the last 25 years. He's the only player in NBA history to average at least 20 points and five assists off the bench. And he leads the NBA in fourth-quarter points, averaging almost eight a game.
Williams helped the Clippers stay in the playoff race despite numerous injuries, was selected for the skills challenge at All-Star Weekend and was rewarded with a three-year, $24 million extension in February.
Williams believes that based on the impact he made, he should become just the fifth player to win the sixth man award twice.
"First player to lead the team in scoring and assists off the bench," said Williams, who had 24 points and five assists against the Nuggets. "Having an opportunity to be in the All-Star talks. Just for us to be competitive with the way that everything went. Just honestly speaking, I had a lot to do with that. I've seen guys win awards based on their numbers and teams not be as successful. With history being made, I think so."
DeAndre Jordan tied Danny Manning for the sixth-most field goals made in franchise history. Jordan, who had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds, now has 2,853 field goals over his 10-year career with the Clippers.
Jordan trails franchise leader Randy Smith (5,214), Blake Griffin (4,161), Bob McAdoo (3,697), Elton Brand (3,549) and Loy Vaught (2,890).
Jordan collected his 264th double-double, leaving him one shy of the franchise record held by Brand. Jordan has 46 double-doubles this season, seventh best in the NBA.