Daily MVP Film: Lou Williams Pick-and-Roll Clinic

Lou Williams had missed four-straight games with a hamstring injury but showed no signs of rust as he led the Clippers to a victory over the Mavericks with 26 points and eight assists.

Williams played extremely efficient ball in his return to the court, needing just 12 shots in 24 minutes to do all of his damage. In a supremely ironic twist, he did it with mid-range jumpers on a night when James Harden shot 30 percent from the floor en route to 35 points and an L at the hands of Miami.

More on those mid-range shots in a minute, but we’ll start with Williams’ passing because that’s what he did. Williams only made three baskets in the first half, but he assisted on seven for his teammates. Montrezl Harrell was the primary beneficiary, getting four makes right at the rim after picking and rolling for Williams.

Lou Will established his ability to shoot off the bounce at any moment early in this game. Here again, it’s Harrell setting the screens that free Williams for the shots. The only three he made in the entire game was after a fairly Harden-esque attempt to force a foul call at the arc.

That action also opened up shooters on the perimeter, especially when the Clippers ran a double screen. The defense has to respect Williams as both a driver and a pull-up shooter, and Harrell scored 18 in this game on 69 percent shooting because he rolled to the rim so well. The double screen adds a layer of complexity that briefly occupies three defenders, and Tyrone Wallace gets a wide-open trey.

As far as easy buckets go, lobbing the ball to Boban Marjanovic with no shot blocker around is about as easy as they come. The initial pick and roll by Wallace forces DeAndre Jordan to switch, and Wallace drags the big man out to the open corner. Williams pump fakes and takes a quick dribble to beat a defender closing out, and he flicks a pass over the top before Boban even has a chance to point up.

As the game progressed, Williams’ right arm was (almost) strictly for buckets. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s never been afraid to attack the rim and anyone standing in front of it. It doesn’t even matter if that person is a foot taller than him and making an emotional return to the place where he played for most of his career. DeAndre Jordan could get it too.

Still, Williams did most of his damage in this game with a silky smooth mid-range jumper. His ability to move quickly with the ball, pull up, and get on balance to knock down shots was his biggest asset.

Once the game got close in the fourth quarter, Williams showed some veteran savvy drawing contact and getting to the line. He didn’t just throw up flailing attempts to get to the stripe, however. He attempted his shots in a way that he knew would result in foul calls, but he hit the shots too.

Late in the fourth quarter with a small lead, Doc Rivers savagely attacked the defensive weakness of the rim protector he coached for five years, who he said after the game should have his number retired by the Clippers. The weapon he used was Lou Williams. Lou Will’s last bucket embodied everything that made him successful in this game. The double screen gets Williams dribbling downhill at Jordan, and as soon as the seven-footer’s weight has shifted toward the basket in a way he can’t recover from, Williams pulls up and hits nails a shot right in his face.

Williams didn’t have any assists in the second half, so all eyes were on him and Harrell running pick and roll at the top of the key. The defenders were right to be wary, especially because the screen was extremely high and forced Jordan to defend way out in space. Gallinari made a fantastic cut and put a reverse-jam exclamation point on a 32-point performance of his own.

In a 3-obsessed NBA, it’s refreshing to see a seasoned veteran and reigning Sixth Man of the Year put on a pick and roll clinic and shoot the lights out from 18 feet.

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