When Chris Paul went down with a separated shoulder that will keep him out for approximately six weeks in the 2013-14 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers had to have the feeling that hard times were ahead of them without their leader, floor-general, and best player.
In their first game without CP3, a tough matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, the Clips were embarrassed in a 24-point loss. Darren Collison stepped in as the starting point guard and, though he was solid overall, wasn’t providing the same leadership and playmaking ability that Paul does, which is also to be expected. He finished that night with 14 points, six assists, two rebounds and three steals on 6-9 shooting.
However, Collison has seemed to be more comfortable in the starting role over the past two games, including Wednesday night’s victory over the Boston Celtics. Against Boston, Collison shot just 4-9 from the field, but hit two of his three attempts from beyond-the-arc and got to the line five times as well. He ended the night with a solid 15 points, six assists and five boards.
Though Wednesday night’s line is similar to the line he put up in his first game as a starter, his paly was much more effective and has been over the past two games. Collison is far from the primary option, but he’s taking offense as it comes, not settling for bad shots, and is attacking to try and get to the charity stripe. He’s also doing a better job of setting up his teammates, even if his assist numbers don’t totally reflect that.
The Clippers’ last two games and subsequent wins have been over lesser teams, meaning that Collison still needs to prove that he can play this way against better opponents going forward. However, these two games have to give hope that all is not lost for this team while Paul is out of commission.