Clippers guard Lou Williams, the NBA’s top-scoring reserve, could miss an extended amount of time after injuring a hamstring Monday night in a victory at Phoenix.
Coach Doc Rivers, speaking before Tuesday's home loss to Toronto, said he was told the injury was “not a bad hamstring, but I’ve never heard of a good one.”
“My guess, two weeks? I don’t know, honestly.”
Williams has been a vital member of a bench unit that leads the league in scoring, averaging 52 points a game entering Tuesday. Williams, who won the league’s sixth man honor for the second time last season, has averaged 17.2 points while shooting 39.8% from the field and 34.4% from three-point range.
The Clippers have outscored opponents by 2.5 points a game when Williams plays, a rating that ranks third best among Clippers who have played significant minutes this season. The team's plus-minus when he doesn't play also ranks third best on the roster.
With Williams out, guards Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic headline the team’s second unit, with the potential for Tyrone Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell to get more minutes, as well. Wallace had season highs in points (15) and minutes (24) Tuesday.
But Rivers said he isn’t targeting certain players to compensate for Williams’ absence.
“No one, just go play,” Rivers said. “I always say the ball will find the basket somehow. I guarantee you somebody will find a shot because they'll shoot it, so you're not going to replace Lou, so don't try. Just try to score as much as you can, stay aggressive, move the ball more and we'll see what happens.”
The team nearly suffered another key loss during warmups when forward Montrezl Harrell, the league’s sixth-leading scorer off the bench entering Tuesday, entered the locker room in visible pain and indicated he’d hurt his shoulder. He emerged from the training room minutes later, however, and said he was “good” to play.
Harrell had just six points and three rebounds in 22 minutes in a 123-99 loss.
The Clippers also were without bench players Luc Mbah a Moute, a forward who has played only four games while recovering from a knee injury, and rookie guard Jerome Robinson, who strained a foot more than one week ago.
Slump buster for Lowry
Toronto guard Kyle Lowry entered Tuesday in the midst of a severe shooting slump, having made four of 28 field goal attempts in his previous four games.
Not that it mattered to Rivers.
“Everyone goes in struggles,” Rivers said. “He won’t be in there long.”
Much to his dismay, he was right.
Lowry made three of his first four shots and helped Toronto open a 13-point first-quarter lead. The contributions were necessary, given star forward Kawhi Leonard did not play because of a bruised right hip. Raptors coach Nick Nurse openly wondered where the team’s scoring would come from before tipoff, and Lowry delivered with 21 points on eight-of-13 shooting, including four of eight from three-point range.
Lowry came into the game shooting 42.4% from the field, just below his career average of 42.5%.