Ex-Mav Collison comes through in clutch for Clippers

Here are four words that might confuse Dallas Mavericks fans: Darren Collison, playoff hero.

Collison, the scapegoat for many of the Mavs’ crunch-time failures during their miserably mediocre 2012-13 season, keyed the Los Angeles Clippers’ comeback from a 22-point deficit in Sunday’s series-evening Game 4 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, making several impact plays with his speed as part of a three-guard late lineup, including a couple of layups that were the Clippers’ last two buckets.

“Game ball goes to Darren Collison,” L.A. star Chris Paul said.

What a moment for Collison, whose one-season stint in Dallas was so disappointing. He arrived with hope that he’d have a chance to prove he could be a long-term solution as the Mavs’ starting point guard and ended up getting demoted for an elderly, off-the-street replacement … twice.

Collison, who signed a two-year, $3.9 million deal this summer, has been a great addition to the Clippers. His stats (11.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) are actually down a bit from last season, but not nearly as much as the pressure on him.

L.A. didn’t ask Collison to replace a legend, as the Mavs did after scrambling to fill Jason Kidd’s shoes. They signed Collison to complement a perennial All-Star point guard.

Collison has consistently provided the Clippers with quickness and energy off the bench, except when CP3 went down for several weeks in the middle of the season. Then, Collison did an admirable job as the fill-in starter, helping MVP candidate Blake Griffin keep the Clippers’ boat afloat without their captain.

In other words, Collison has lived up to Rick Carlisle’s evaluation of him: one of the league’s best backup point guards. Emphasis on backup.

He’s much more J.J. Barea than Jason Kidd. No shame in that.

Barea had some magnificent moments during the Mavs’ 2011 title run. Maybe Collison can have a similar experience as a complementary piece for the Clippers.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4702001/ex-mav-collison-comes-through-in-clutch-for-clippers

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