Eric Bledsoe still has plenty to learn as a professional basketball player, but he already has one lesson figured out.
"This is the NBA; anything can happen," he said.
Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers finished the game with DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Bledsoe all on the floor for crunch time, and all three made big plays to help the Clippers get a 96-90 victory.
Jordan grabbed clutch offensive rebounds and protected the rim late, Butler drilled a big-time corner 3-pointer and Bledsoe dished out a season-high 10 assists, helping out with the Clippers' unexpectedly shorthanded.
"They've stayed ready," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "They've been working hard. They've still been working and still have the positive attitudes. That's what we need.
"Sometimes, it's not going to be your night and you aren't going to get your number called, but those guys stayed ready and came through for us."
The win kicked off a season-long, eight-game trip.
Already without Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, the Clippers lost Matt Barnes after six minutes when Barnes was ejected for shoving his forearm into Minnesota center Greg Stiemsma's throat.
"Stiemsma hit me with a couple of dirty picks early on, and I told him to watch it. He laughed and hit me with another one," Barnes said. "I lost my control, and I apologize to the team for it. There's no excuse for it."
Minutes later, Stiemsma pushed Grant Hill in the back, sending Hill to the floor.
Butler, Ronny Turiaf and Jamal Crawford all rushed to confront Stiemsma, and Butler and Turiaf were hit with technical fouls. Stiemsma was called for a flagrant foul-1 for shoving Hill.
"Whenever Grant Hill falls on the ground, everyone is upset," Crawford said.
"I saw one of my brothers go down, and it was a natural reaction. That's my idol right there," Butler said of Hill.
The incident with Stiemsma and the ensuing technical free throws put Minnesota up, 38-27. But the Clippers responded, finishing the first half on a 25-10 run.
Clippers have plenty in reserve, fight off Timberwolves
Orange County Register | Jan 31