Montrezl Harrell furrowed his brow and puffed out his lower lip as he pondered the question. When the Clippers are scoring like they did in a 150-125 rout of the Washington Wizards on Sunday night at Staples Center with 73 points coming from the bench, what can the team accomplish?
“It’s unlimited, really,” the 6-foot-7 forward replied.
Playing against one of the NBA’s worst defenses, the Clippers (15-6) received big nights from stars Kawhi Leonard (34 points) and Paul George (31 points), but also used a team effort to flirt with the franchise record for points in a game. With Harrell and guard Lou Williams scoring 23 and 22 off the bench, respectively, the Clippers fell two points short of tying the franchise record of 152 in a game.
Harrell added a career-high 15 rebounds to become the first player in franchise history with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds off the bench, while Williams had eight assists, his third consecutive game with seven or more. The Clippers’ bench entered the game already leading the NBA in scoring at 52.4 points per game.
Williams said the additions of Leonard and George in the offseason gave the Clippers several highly skilled offensive players who are used to having the ball in their hands. As a result, he accepted the need to “take a back seat.”
The 15th-year pro is happy to step back from the spotlight if it helps the Clippers, who have won eight of their last nine games, move up in the standings.
“I’m a bench player. I never lose track of who I am and what I bring to the table for this basketball team,” Williams said. “I’m at the point in my career when winning is really important to me. I do enjoy scoring the basketball, I do enjoy doing my thing on the floor, but I enjoy winning more than all of that.”
The Clippers excelled against the injury-hampered Wizards (6-12), who have accepted their defensive shortcomings in exchange for potential offensive fireworks. Washington entered Sunday’s matchup with the NBA’s worst defensive rating while ranking fourth in offensive rating. But even a career-high 30 points from rookie forward Rui Hachimura weren’t enough to contend with the Clippers’ all-around firepower.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said his team is far more advanced on defense than on offense at this point, in part because of limited practice time with new players.
Because of the team’s busy schedule, which hasn’t included back-to-back days off from games since early November, George and Leonard have yet to even practice together on the same team since George returned from his shoulder injuries.
Williams stopped short of calling the Clippers’ offense “special,” as one reporter suggested it is after the team scored 150 points for the second time this season, because the veteran knows the team isn’t close to its full potential yet.
“We’re still building and still growing and figuring everything out,” Williams said, “but every once in a while, you kind of see glimpses of it when everybody’s on the same page like tonight.”