Clippers’ second unit making its mark early in the season

first_imgThose five started the second quarter with a 32-29 lead. The Clippers seized control of the game over the course of the next few minutes, while Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers sat on the bench and cheered their replacements. By halftime, the Clippers led 66-48.The Clippers’ bench players outscored their Dallas counterparts 18-3 in the second quarter.Game over.“It’s just nice,” Rivers said of Gallinari leading the second unit’s surge. “Our guards were going downhill and it put a lot of pressure (on the Mavericks). I thought it was good for ‘Gallo,’ too, because he was featured more and he got the ball a lot, made plays with the ball.”Gallinari didn’t score in the second quarter, but had four rebounds and two assists.A DIFFERENT BLAKE?No question, the Clippers are a changed team since trading Paul to the Rockets in the offseason. Griffin has assumed a more prominent role, adapting and adjusting in Paul’s absence and to the addition of so many new teammates. It hasn’t gone unnoticed around the NBA.“The majority of what they’re doing runs through him,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Griffin. “He’s doing a lot more playmaking, a lot more perimeter playmaking, as well as posting up on the inside and causing a lot of problems from there.“He’s elevated his game. Their team is doing a great job of playing off of him.”Griffin is averaging team-high totals of 22.9 points and 4.7 assists.BACK-TO-BACKThe Clippers play host to the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat in matinees Saturday and Sunday at Staples Center, ending a season-opening stretch in which they played eight of nine at home. Then they hit the road to play eight of their next nine games away from home.“They’re big games for us,” Rivers said of the back-to-back day games. “We wish they weren’t both at 12:30, I can tell you that, because those are tricky games. We have to be ready for them. We talked about them. They sneak up on you. We can’t think about the road right now.” Nothing has been set in stone. The Clippers remain a work in progress after winning five of their first seven games. After all, nine of the 14 players on their roster are new to the team this season, after a summer of change that was highlighted by the departure of All-Star point guard Chris Paul in a trade to Houston.The Clippers are just getting to know each other.“It’s always a learning process,” said Clippers small forward Danilo Gallinari, acquired in the offseason from the Denver Nuggets. “Everybody is new, so we’re going to learn now and we’re still going to learn in one month, in two months. It’s a long process when you have a new team.”The Clippers discovered something about themselves during the second quarter of their rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. That’s when Clippers coach Doc Rivers teamed Gallinari, a starter, with four reserves: Wesley Johnson, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and Sindarius Thornwell.Thornwell, a rookie, played the point guard position. LOS ANGELES — The Clippers’ second unit doesn’t have a catchy nickname yet. They’re not The Bench Mob. They’re not The Backups. They’re not The Pips. They might never be known as anything more than a reliable group of players who enter the game and make a difference.On some nights, it might not be five players, but four reserves plus a starter.It could be three bench players, plus two starters.Or it could be all five.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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