Sometimes coaches make good decisions, and sometimes, coaches make bad ones. But occasionally, like they did Sunday afternoon, circumstances intervene and force a coach's hand.
With Caron Butler out for the game because of a sore lower back, Vinny Del Negro was forced to play Grant Hill, and the 40-year-old forward delivered in a major way in the Clippers' 102-88 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 42 points — most of them coming against Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin and Butler. But with Hill guarding Anthony for the entire fourth quarter, he scored only four points.
“I thought Grant was the difference in the game, really,” Del Negro said.
Hill didn't play against the Miami Heat on Friday because of a combination of a sore right knee and a coach's decision.
Hill didn't play in the first half Sunday, either, coming in to replace Barnes late in the third quarter.
Once in, Hill made it impossible for Del Negro to sub him out.
Hill has played in only 15 games for the Clippers this season because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
The injury has prevented him from effectively guarding players like Anthony, Kevin Durant or LeBron James — a job that seemed like it'd be his when he signed with the Clippers as a free agent in the summer.
Sunday, thanks to Butler's injury, he got a chance to show his true value.
“The main thing is I'm starting to trust my knee a little more,” Hill said. “I was just reacting and all that. Earlier this year, I don't think I was ready to guard a player like Durant with my legs and all that.”
Sunday, he stifled one of the NBA's top scorers in Anthony, a player with perhaps the best inside-outside game in the league.
Clippers pull out all stops in New York
Orange County Register | Feb 11