Clippers’ Mo Williams gives team a confidence boost
Maybe it’s because he has four youngsters — all boys — that Mo Williams has made a nearly seamless transition, crossing over from glory days and despair in Cleveland straight into the cartoon-watching, video game-playing Clippers’ locker room.
The Clippers are 4-1 since Williams stepped on the court, making his debut in Sacramento on Feb. 28. That doesn’t tell the whole story: Two victories, and most of the third one, were without injured shooting guard Eric Gordon.
Not only have the Clippers struggled in a major way whenever Gordon has been absent in the last two seasons, they were even more confounded on the road this season. Even with Gordon on hand.
“We’ve been in a lot of [competitive] games on the road — when you look at our scores,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “But we haven’t converted in the fourth quarter. I think having Mo really helped our confidence, having Chris [Kaman] back and the younger guys getting some experience.”
This five-game trip started with back-to-back victories against Charlotte and Boston, and Williams stepped up, declaring that third-year center DeAndre Jordan was his personal project. On one of the first available free nights on the trip, Williams had dinner with Jordan and Blake Griffin in Boston.
“He’s telling me things on the court,” Jordan said.
“With Mo’s playoff experience, he’s a big boost for us. He’s going to be very good for us. We’ve just got to take that next step and get better as the season ends here. Just get ready for more wins.”
Williams, acquired in the Baron Davis deal from Cleveland at the trade deadline, is averaging 19 points in his five games with the Clippers, including a 28-point showing in a 108-103 victory against the Boston Celtics, tying a season high.
Just call him: The man happiest to be a Clipper.
Williams was in the visiting locker room at TD Garden on Wednesday night, chatting with a couple of reporters. He said the Clippers have “turned the corner,” adding that they were in the fourth quarter of a rebuilding project.
“I learned a long time ago, you’ve got to put the past behind you,” he said.
Williams was amusing when he talked about Jordan at the free-throw line against the Celtics, hitting two big ones in crunch time. Of course, Jordan’s free-throw woes were common knowledge … even in the Eastern Conference.
“I know about it. I’ve played against him enough,” Williams said, laughing. “The main thing was: ‘Foul him. Foul him.’”
And his advice on Wednesday?
“Slow it down. Make sure you don’t rush the shot,” Williams said. “Shoot it off your fingertips, not in the palm of your hands. And you know what, after everything I said, ‘Don’t think about it.’”
Griffin had had his own bad patches at the line. He, too, jumped in with advice for Jordan.
“Sometimes when he misses that first one, he’s like, ‘Oh man,’” Griffin said of Jordan. “I told him, ‘This is not live or die. You are going to make these. And you are going to go back and play defense.’ Just try to calm him down. Talk to him the whole time so he wasn’t thinking standing up there.”
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