Los Angeles-Nick Young didn’t think he had much of an opportunity to get on the floor in the Los Angeles Clippers inter-conference game against the Detroit Pistons. After coming over to the Clippers from the Washington Wizards as part of a three-team trade, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Young thought he’d be doing more watching and observing than running around and chasing the likes of Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey all over the court at Staples Center.
Much to his surprise, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro worked Young in a couple of set plays during the team’s shoot around session before the game. Young, who is averaging just over 16 points a game this season, wound up playing a little over 28 minutes and scoring nine points in the Clippers’ 87-83 win Sunday.
“When I got here earlier I didn’t think that I was going to play,” Young said after the game. “They told me right before shootaround. I was like, ‘Oh, okay. I’ve got to adjust my mindset, get ready to go in. I didn’t think that I was I was going to play.’ It was kind of tough but they (players) helped me out.”
Chris Paul, who came within one rebound of recording a triple-double, dominated the fourth quarter and in overtime, scoring 19 points, handed off 15 assists and grabbed nine boards to lead the Clippers to their 26th win of the season. Forward Blake Griffin added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles. But the newcomer had his hand in the victory as well.
Young, who came into the game averaging just over 16 points a game this season, had the play of the game when he made a key steal late in overtime to help preserve the win. Young stole the ball from Brandon Knight, which led him to being fouled. Young converted his two free throws to give the Clippers a 76-74 lead.
“I was just playing hard,” Young said. “I saw the ball leaving his hand, stretched my arms out there and came up with it. It was a great feeling, just being out there, seeing how hard they were playing, seeing everybody’s energy. Me being out there, I don’t want my first debut to be as a loss. I was trying to anything to pull that one off.”
For Young to play for the Clipper means it is a welcome homecoming of sorts. Selected as the No. 16 pick in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft by the Wizards, Young starred at USC and led the Trojans to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament that year. Young made the first team of the then Pac-10 (now Pac-12) Conference as a member of the Trojans.
On how he thinks he will fit in with the Clippers, Young said his objective is to do whatever it takes to help the team win, including taking some of the scoring load off of Paul and Griffin.
“I’m a guy who is going to relieve some of that pressure, so that we don’t have to rely on them so much to knock down shots, put the ball into the hole and try to get stops on defense.” Young said.