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Lou Williams isn’t scoring as much, but his presence is still felt

Denver Nuggets' Gary Harris takes a shot over Clippers' Lou Williams.
Denver Nuggets’ Gary Harris takes a shot over the Clippers’ Lou Williams during the second half Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Lou Williams stood in the corner in front of the Denver bench and took a three-point shot that floated softly up off the side of the iron before dropping in.

It’s the kind of shot Williams has made throughout his career, helping earn him a reputation as one of the NBA’s most feared bench scorers. But as the Clippers continue to wildly flail at consistency this postseason like a child learning to swim, this shot seems noteworthy.

It was the first three for Williams in more than two weeks.

“Is that how long it’s been since I made a three-point shot?” Williams asked. “I don’t even care. For real. I’m a scorer.”

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Williams didn’t score Monday the way he has before, but a few key shots and a few key stops introduced his impact into the series.

“He did little things defensively,” coach Doc Rivers said.

Williams finished with 10 points but was a team-best plus-20 in the Clippers’ 113-107 win Monday in Game 3.

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Before the game, Denver coach Michael Malone spoke about his team’s efforts against Williams, a major part of the Clippers attack. Instead of talking about the player Williams has been in this series, a nonfactor from deep who is also a defensive liability, Malone kept appropriate fear of the reserve guard out of respect for his track record.

“He’s a scorer so you can’t let him get into rhythm,” Malone said. “So trying to take away his airspace, trying to be up in pick-and-rolls… I think the most important thing is you have to defend him without fouling and we’ve done a pretty good job of that.

“He is a master at drawing fouls, especially when he is shooting jump shots and three-point shots, so if you can keep Lou Williams off the foul line, you’re going to give yourselves a chance to try to contain him and not allow him to have one of those Lou Williams-types of games.”

Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic reaches for the ball with Clippers' Lou Williams.
Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic reaches for the ball with Clippers’ Lou Williams during the first half on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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That’s happened only once this postseason — back on Aug. 23, which was the last time he made a three-point shot. In Game 4 against Dallas, Williams scored 36, one of two times this postseason Williams has scored more than 14 points.

Williams would hit again from that same corner, both big shots that would give the Clippers one-point leads in the second half, but it was clear the star sub was out of sorts.

Earlier in the series, Malone said Williams’ foul-drawing skills were so good that he should teach a course on it “at a local university.” But in the first half Monday, Williams caught a Denver defender in the air and got the whistle only to pass, costing the Clippers and him three free throws.

Clipper Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for his ‘verbal abuse of a game official’ during his team’s loss Saturday to Denver.

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After the mistake, Williams’ face filled with regretful frustration as he rubbed his hands together in disbelief.

It’s been tough going for Williams and Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers’ bench duo good enough to be two of the top three vote-getters in the sixth-man-of-the-year award that Harrell won. The duo combined to score 48 points in the first two games.

Monday, though, they were more present, more aggressive and more impactful — even if defensive lapses were still problematic. But when the ball found Williams in a couple of key moments, he didn’t pause like someone as cold as he might’ve.

“Scorers score,” Williams said. “Sometimes you go through droughts, go through rough patches. But I didn’t even know that.”


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