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Clippers' Rasual Butler takes coming off the bench in stride

He had a season-high 27 points, and was eight for 15 shooting against the Nuggets, in a reserve role.

November 22, 2009|By Lisa Dillman
  • Rasual Butler came in off the bench Friday night after nine straight starts but finished with a season-high 27 points in the 106-99 victory over the Nuggets.
Rasual Butler came in off the bench Friday night after nine straight starts… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

A change in real estate, as in location, apparently was the answer to Rasual Butler's shooting woes.

The bench.

Not that Butler was there long on Friday night for the Clippers against the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers used a 19-0 run in the first half to turn it around against the Nuggets, going on for a 106-99 win.

Al Thornton was the starting small forward, and Ricky Davis, surprisingly, earned his first start of the season, at shooting guard. This left Butler, who was three for nine against Memphis on Wednesday and missed all four of his three-point attempts, to start the game on the bench.

Butler had been in the Clippers' starting lineup for nine consecutive games before Friday night. He said the switch became easier to take when Coach Mike Dunleavy explained it was, among other things, for match-up reasons.

"I understood exactly what he was saying. He felt like he wanted that matchup with me and J.R. [Smith]," Butler said. "He felt like I would do a good job on him defensively. He's a great player. I played with J.R. before in New Orleans."

Defense led to an offensive outburst. Butler had a season-high 27 points, shooting eight for 15 from the field and making four three-pointers. Of his team-leading 27 points, 11 came in the second quarter.

"Rasual was big the whole game, coming off the bench," teammate Marcus Camby said. "He's been starting for us for a long time. He took a real professional attitude about it, came out here and probably had his best game of the season. We definitely need that."

Butler, in part, said that indecisiveness was a part of his struggles.

"I was missing some shots," he said. "That what happens sometimes. You start thinking too much and it becomes mental: 'I need to get a little closer. I need to do this. I need to do that.' But I kind of came out and just told myself, 'If I have my shot, I'm going to shoot it.' "

Kudos for 'Melo

Camby had a huge block late in the game against his former teammate Carmelo Anthony, who led all players with 37 points. Still, Camby downplayed the rejection.

"It was just being at the right place at the right time,' he said. "I think he's the best player in the league, probably the best scorer in the league we have. He came with 17 first-quarter points and he puts lots of pressure on the defense."

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