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Nick Young provided Clippers a boost

The guard, who has been with the team for only 33 games, gave it a scoring spark off the bench in the playoffs.

May 20, 2012|By Matt Stevens

Like many of his teammates, Clippers guard Nick Young has been coping with an injury throughout his team's playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.

His malady hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as Chris Paul's strained right hip flexor or Blake Griffin's sprained left knee, but regardless, Young's tooth really hurts.

The Reseda Cleveland High School and USC alum has been putting off dental surgery to extract a wisdom tooth so he could keep playing in the playoffs. After joining the Clippers in March, Young's scoring spark off the bench has quickly become indispensable.

"Nick has battled through some things, because, with the tough season, he hasn't had a lot of practice," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's had to do a lot of things on the fly. So I give him a lot of credit for that."

The Clippers lost Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, 102-99, ending the journey this year for Young and his team. But in the short span of 33 games back in his hometown, Young has managed to make his mark.

The 26-year-old averaged 8.8 points per game in the 2012 playoffs coming into Sunday compared with just 1.3 points per game during his 2008 playoff series as a member of the Washington Wizards.

With 7:42 to play in the second quarter Sunday, a nasty crossover dribble by Young sent his defender to the floor, giving him enough space to hit a three-pointer.

That was all Young would score Sunday, but with so many Clippers suffering from injuries in this year's playoffs, Del Negro has needed every one of Young's playoff buckets.

"He can score the basketball in bunches," Del Negro said. "He's helped us win some games."

Young was instrumental in the Clippers historic Game 1 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. His three consecutive three-pointers in the span of a minute cut the Grizzlies' lead from 12 to three en route to the Clippers 99-98 shocker.

He came up big again at the other end of the series, scoring 13 points in Game 7 to help the Clippers close out Memphis. After that game, Young and his veteran teammate Kenyon Martin took to the podium to speak to reporters.

Young, who is known for his bold attire choices, was adored in a simple denim jacket, though he would later add sunglasses.

Asked what they had learned from the upset victory, Martin said, "I haven't learned anything, to be honest with you."

"This is my first time, man," Young cut in.

The Clippers hope it will be far from his last.

matt.stevens@latimes.com

twitter.com/mattstevenslat

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