Clippers sixth man Lou Williams on Tuesday became the third NBA player since 1970-71 to score 10,000 career points off the bench.
He joins a club that includes Dell Curry (11,147 points) and former Clipper Jamal Crawford (10,792).
Williams joined their company by making a free throw with 7:45 to play in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City. He finished with 17 points on four-of-11 shooting. He made all eight of his free throws.
A two-time sixth man of the year, the 32-year-old Williams has started 109 of 868 career games and averaged 13.7 points in 14 seasons.
In averaging a career-high 22.6 points last season, he became the first player since 1984-85 to lead his team in scoring while starting less than a third of the games. He scored 20 or more points 50 times last season and 30 or more 17 times — more than any other reserve.
Williams grew up in Memphis before moving as a teen to Atlanta, where he was drafted out of high school. He didn’t grow up watching basketball, he said, and didn’t seek to emulate any scoring stars. It came naturally, he said.
“Scoring,” he said, “was my niche.”
The Clippers continued their offensive resurgence in the first half Tuesday by shooting 54% and making six of 11 three-pointers. It was the third time this season they scored 67 or more points in a first half — something they did just four times last season.
The hot start followed two games in which the Clippers scored at least 133 points. They hadn’t done that in consecutive games since 1974, when the Clippers were still the Buffalo Braves.
“They do a good job on the offensive glass generating and manufacturing extra possessions,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before tipoff. “It’s a team with a lot of guys at least one through four who can all put it down, shoot a three, make a play.”
The Clippers couldn’t sustain their shooting after halftime, outscored 39-10 in the third quarter.
Mbah a Moute out again
Forward Luc Mbah a Moute missed a third consecutive game with a sore left knee, but he made the trip and could return soon.
“Usually if a guy is on the trip that means he’s right around the corner from playing,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We thought he may play tonight. It doesn’t look like he’s going to play. So hopefully he’ll play in Philly.”
Mbah a Moute was signed last summer in hopes of improving the Clippers’ defense, which he has done. The Clippers are giving up 98.5 points every 100 possessions when Mbah a Moute plays, seven points fewer than the team’s season average.
Other contributions off the court are harder to quantify but easy to identify, Rivers said.
“Guys like Lou and Luc, they both tell the truth, they tell what they see,” Rivers said. “They don’t need to do it. There are leaders in our league and all over that want everyone to know they’re leading or the leader. Then there are guys who just lead, and we have a bunch of guys that just lead.”