Clippers reserve big man Lamar Odom tries to cut off a drive by 76ers center… (Michael Nelson / EPA )
The Clippers' reserves had been holding back lately.
One of the most productive benches in the NBA had combined to average only 25.3 points in the three games prior to the Clippers' 101-72 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at Staples Center, being outscored by their counterparts in each game.
They were back to their more prolific ways against the 76ers, outscoring them 42-25 largely on the strength of 12 points from reserve Jamal Crawford and 10 from Ryan Hollins.
That wasn't the case a night earlier, when the margin was 62-38 in favor of the Sacramento Kings' reserves during the Clippers' 116-101 loss on Tuesday.
The Clippers' bench slipped to fourth in the league in scoring before Wednesday's games, its collective 40.2 points per game trailing Dallas (41.7), New York (40.7) and Denver (40.7).
The slide in production is closely linked to injuries that have forced Eric Bledsoe to miss five consecutive games and contributed to Crawford's recent shooting slump after he sat out two games because of a sore left ankle.
"Bledsoe's a huge part of that," Crawford said of the dip in bench scoring, "because even though he's not looking to always score, he pushes tempo, he pushes pace, he puts everybody back in their natural position, so having him out there, it kind of gives us two teams in one because he's a different point guard than what we have with Chris [Paul] and Chauncey [Billups].
"He's a one-man fastbreak. With him [on the court], we play off each other, everybody knows their role, we had gotten really, really comfortable with what they're doing. Guys are still struggling a little bit to find their way, but I have no doubt we'll be OK."
A late liability?
The Kings overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter Tuesday in part by fouling DeAndre Jordan and sending the notoriously poor free-throw shooter to the foul line. Jordan missed three of four attempts, was replaced by Caron Butler and did not return.
Does Jordan need to make at least one of every two free throws in those situations to stay in the game?
"It depends on time and score," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We can't go two or three possessions and not get something out of those possessions, so he knows that. That changes the complexion at times."
The Clippers are hoping to get Billups (strained right groin) and Bledsoe (sore left calf) back for their game Saturday against Brooklyn.
Billups said he did not consider his groin injury serious and was happy he decided to sit out the second half of the game against Sacramento after hurting himself in the second quarter.
"I'm not frustrated on this one," Billups said. "Of course I want to play, but this is going to be a minor thing."