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Nick Young is off the bench, into the playoffs with Clippers

Against conference leader Oklahoma City, Nick Young gets a confidence boost by leading the Clippers with 19 points off the bench, his best performance since joining the team in March.

April 17, 2012|By Melissa Rohlin
  • Nick Young, shown playing the Hornets last month, had a breakout performance -- 19 points on seven-for-10 shooting -- against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Nick Young, shown playing the Hornets last month, had a breakout performance… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

As a sizable group of reporters huddled around Nick Young's locker, his teammates began calling out his nickname.

"Go Swaggy P," they said, muffling his response to questions.

Young beamed a huge smile.

"Feels good," he said of being the object of their cheers. "I was waiting for one of those type games."

Coming off of the bench, Young led the Clippers with 19 points, his highest output since being acquired from Washington at the March 15 trade deadline. And he did it efficiently -- he shot seven for 10 from the field and was three for four from the three-point line, helping the Clippers beat Oklahoma City, 92-77.

"It was a blessing," Young said of his performance.

Since joining the Clippers, Young's scoring average dropped from 16.6 points a game with the Wizards to 9.8 points a game. He also saw a decline in minutes played, from 30.3 to 24.9.

Knowing that he was capable of far more than he was producing, yet acquiescing to his new role on a far more loaded team left Young yearning for a breakout performance.

It came against a Thunder team that sits on top of the Western Conference standings.

Young helped offset an 11-point second-quarter deficit by leading his team with eight points in the third quarter.

In the final three minutes of the third quarter, he made consecutive three-pointers, catapulting the Clippers to trail by only one point at 66-65 with 1 minute and 15 seconds left.

"We love having him on the team, and he's been great, and tonight he was even better," Blake Griffin said of Young.

On Monday evening, the Clippers secured their first playoff berth since the 2005-2006 season. Young has been to the playoffs once before with Washington in 2008, but this time, he hopes things will be a bit different.

"I was a rookie in Washington, you know, I didn't really play, I just watched," Young said. "Now I might get a chance to get out there so I'm excited."

Before that happens, Young acknowledged that he had craved the reassurance of a glowing performance, a confidence boost that can only come from the type of game that he had against the Thunder.

"To get it tonight against one of the top -- probably the top -- team in the league, feels great," Young said.

melissa.rohlin@latimes.com

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