On Tuesday, the NBA league coaches chose the 14 players that would serve as reserves in the NBA All-Star Game taking place on February 18 at Staples Center. The announcement was nationally televised on TNT.
Disappointingly, Clippers standout Lou Williams was not among those chosen to participate despite having another outstanding season and helping the Clippers to achieve wins during a plague of injuries to the teams starters. Williams was named Western Conference Player of the Week twice already this season, but obviously that was not enough for the veteran guard to be picked.
He led the league in scoring (31.2 points) over a three-week period starting Dec. 22 and has also led the league in three-pointers made and 30-plus point games. Williams is averaging career highs in points (23.3), assists (5.1), three-point shooting (40.5%), free-throw shooting (90.4%), and is first in the league in points scored in the fourth quarter (323).
On Jan. 20, he scored 27 of his career-high 50 points in the third quarter of the Clippers’ 125-106 win over the Warriors. He shot 16 for 27 with a career-best eight three-pointers and made all 10 of his free throws. It was the highest scoring effort by any Clipper in a single game since Charles Smith tied a franchise record with 52 points in December 1990.
“Honestly, I deserve it,” Williams said. “With what this team has been through this year with injuries, with so many different lineups and still having an opportunity to compete for the playoffs and to put ourselves over .500 at this point, I think I’ve got something to do with that.”
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeu agrees with Williams. “Lou Williams is helping to keep the team afloat. He’s very clever and knows how to get to his spots on the floor to take his shots.”
Williams was acquired by the Clippers as part of the eight-player trade for Chris Paul. Coming out of high school, he spent his first seven years of his career in Philadelphia as the protege to Allen Iverson, a great upbringing. The Clippers are his fifth team in six seasons.
Second among active players with 8,579 career points off the bench, Williams stepped into the role vacated by the player who ranks No. 1 on that list: Jamal Crawford, the Sixth Man of the Year in 2014 and ’16 with the Clippers who now plays for the Timberwolves.
The midseason trade last year from the Lakers to the Rockets interrupted one of Williams best seasons of his career. He led the Lakers with 18.6 points in 58 games, all but one of them coming off the bench. Had he not been traded, he believes he would have won his second Sixth Man of the Year award in three years.
“You kind of still felt like if there’s an opportunity to accomplish something you would like to,” he said. “But after I got traded that kind of closed the door on that.”
Though his minutes actually increased in Houston, Williams’ shooting numbers all decreased and his scoring fell to 14.9 points per game.
Patrick Beverley, who came to the Clippers with Williams but is out for the season after surgery to his right knee, is president of Williams’ fan club.
“He gets buckets. It’s that simple,” Beverley said. “That boy puts the ball in the hole.”
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.