Clippers’ J.J. Redick raising his game while Blake Griffin is out


While the Los Angeles Clippers need to get by without Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick has put together two of his top three shooting performances of the season.

When J.J. Redick buried a three from several feet behind the arc to beat the shot clock early on Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Clippers must have had an inkling that they’d be getting a strong performance from their shooting guard. He often starts games well, as the Clippers always get him involved early on with a few high screens and hand-offs.

A quick flurry of eight points or so in several minutes is easy for Redick, and he’s been burying shots in that manner since Blake Griffin has been out with injury for the last three games.

Except for a seven point, 24 minute night against the Washington Wizards, Redick has two signature performances to his name since Griffin was ruled out after Christmas Day. And that’s exactly what his team will need more of while their leading scorer is unable to play.

With a current season-high of 31 points that came on December 9 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Redick has recorded his second and third highest scoring totals of the season since the Clippers lost Griffin. The second being the 26 points he scored on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets, as the Clips extended their win streak to four with a 122-117 win.

Somewhat surprisingly, Redick was nearly overtaken by Austin Rivers as the Clippers’ leading scorer in Charlotte. He made 7-of-11 shots and went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, which hasn’t been something we’ve seen from Rivers yet this season. In fact, it was his highest scoring game of the year so far, although it won’t be as common of an occurrence as it is for Redick.

Seeing as Rivers is shooting just 24.3 percent from three this season, that much is obvious.

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When the Hornets cut the Clippers’ lead to just two points in the third quarter, Redick answered by making three straight shots to put his team back in control. As always, if they need a three to end an opponent’s run and regain some momentum of their own, the guy they want to get the ball to is normally Redick.

This season, that’s been as evident as ever.

His 15.6 points per game is the second highest average of his career, but it’s his efficiency that has really been standing out. His strong night against the Hornets has raised his field goal percentage to a career-high 47.8, while he’s also at a career-high level in three point percentage with 47.7 — currently four percent higher than his previous career-high set last season. He even ranks 3rd in the NBA right now in three point accuracy.

Plus, by shooting 64.7 percent from deep and making 3.7 threes a night over the Clippers’ last three games, Redick has only improved while Griffin isn’t around to carry such a large bulk of the offense.

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Paul Pierce has also found a shooting rhythm at long last since the Clippers have been without Griffin. He’s been having a terrible season at both ends of the floor, but added another solid shooting performance against the Hornets by going 4-of-9 from the floor for 13 points, including a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first half.

Now, over his last three outings, he’s averaged 14 points, 51.9 percent shooting, with three threes a night at a 52.9 percent rate.

With a total of nine threes in this span, he’s hit more than in the previous 17 games combined.

Until Griffin makes his return, the Clippers need to follow Chris Paul’s aggressive scoring and playmaking as the single leader on offense, and utilize their shooters. Pierce and Rivers can’t be counted on every night at all, but someone they can always get more involved in the offense is Redick. Even by getting him three or five more shots a game, it can make a real difference while Griffin is out.

Next: How the Clippers are winning without Blake Griffin

And with J.J. shooting better than ever from three, he’s done more than enough to prove that they can rely on him right now.