Coach Doc Rivers and his Clippers teammates are encouraging sixth man Jamal Crawford to shoot his way out of his slump, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reports. Over the last eight games, he’s averaging 9.0 points while shooting just 29% percent from the field and 19% from long range. But Rivers says he needs Crawford to be a scorer on the second unit. “Jamal’s so talented that he’ll start being a passer and setting people up because he doesn’t feel it,” Rivers told Woike. “And we need him to shoot.” Crawford indicated to Woike that the other players are thinking all the same lines. “All my teammates are saying, ‘Be more aggressive.’ Doc’s saying, ‘Stop thinking. Just play,’” Crawford said. “That definitely makes you more comfortable, having that support.”
In other news involving the team:
- Blake Griffin could return to action later this month, according to an Associated Press report. Griffin was projected to miss 4-6 weeks after undergoing minor right knee surgery on December 20 and Rivers indicated that timetable still applies. Griffin, who can become a free agent after the season if he declines his $21.4MM option, has missed the last 13 games.
- DeAndre Jordan‘s interior presence has allowed Rivers to successfully employ small-ball lineups in Griffin’s absence, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports. The Clippers are holding opponents to 96.4 points a game, 40.4% shooting and 27.6 % on 3-point attempts during their current five-game winning streak. “It makes your job easier because you can really get into the ball, be aggressive and get up into guys because you know you have a big shot blocker back there,” guard Raymond Felton told DiGiovanna. “When a guy is as athletic as he is, when he can move laterally and backwards with a guard coming at him downhill, it only helps me to really get into the ball and be able to pick up 94 feet.”
- Kevin Garnett, hired as a consultant this week, has begun working with Jordan and other Clippers big men, DiGiovanna writes in the same piece. “I don’t know if he has a defined role except to work with the bigs and to just give knowledge to whoever wants it about being a teammate, about winning,” Rivers said.