DALLAS — After his team's Saturday morning shoot-around, Coach Mike Dunleavy indicated that the Clippers still were undecided about activating reserve swingman Bobby Simmons, saying they might hold off for a few more days.
By late Saturday night, he was happy they hadn't waited.
Simmons, who had been sidelined since Jan. 16 because of a sprained left hip, scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter of a 105-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
He scored five points during a late 10-0 run that carried the Clippers to their first road victory over a team with a winning record since Dec. 20, his shot from the baseline giving the Clippers the lead for good with 54 seconds left.
"Great to have Bobby back," teammate Elton Brand said afterward. "Just his defensive effort, plus he hit big shots, attacked the hole. He's a good player, so it's great to have him back. We missed him on the road on that last trip."
As Brand indicated, Simmons gives the Clippers a little bit of everything. Their most reliable and versatile reserve, he averages 6.9 points, 4.2 points and 1.5 assists in 22.7 minutes. In addition, he is their best defender.
The first-year Clipper had resumed practicing only last Monday, however, and Dunleavy didn't want to rush him back.
Afterward, the coach was relieved to find that Simmons, who played the entire fourth quarter, had logged only 21 minutes in all.
"Oh, good," he said. "I only played him one more minute than I was supposed to. I felt bad. I thought I'd played him forever there. I'd try to leave him there [on the bench through the entire third quarter] and save him, just in case I was going to need him at the end."
"I'm glad to see I didn't push him over the limit too much," he said.
Simmons made four of six shots and four of six free throws. He had one rebound, scoring on a putback, and one steal, leading to a free throw.
"It felt pretty good," he said, happy to be back. "It took a while to get into a rhythm, but I knew that once I got it going I could keep it going."
Brand played 43 minutes against the Bucks, four more than his average, but Dunleavy said it's tempting to never take him out.
"You've got to read it," he said. "I had that with Magic [Johnson] too. You get a guy that wants to play 48; you'd love for him to play 48. But you're just not sure over a long-haul season if that's the right thing to do.
"I don't know if E.B.'s that bad. Magic was definitely that bad. He never wanted to come out. He's say, 'I'm good, I'm good. I'm OK.' "