Kings point guard Darren Collison played only one season with the Clippers, but that time was invaluable.
Collison had All-NBA point guard Chris Paul as a teammate for the second time. He also played for coach Doc Rivers, a former point guard.
“To sit behind (Paul) for two years whether it was in New Orleans or last year, it’s been a blessing,” Collison said. “It made an impact on my game And Doc, too. Doc Rivers has really helped my game grow.”
Collison returned to Los Angeles on Sunday, helping the Kings defeat the Clippers 98-92 at Staples Center. He had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.
In the offseason, the Kings lured Collison with a three-year, $16 million deal that allowed him to become a starter again, and they have been pleased with his leadership and defense.
Collison said it was not a given he’d leave the Clippers. But Los Angeles had other needs to address before trying to re-sign Collison, while the Kings made him their top priority in free agency.
Collison said there were no hard feelings about his departure from the Clippers. Even though he left a team that was a championship contender, Collison believes the Kings are committed to building a winner.
The lessons Collison learned as a Clipper were one reason the Kings wanted him. Collison credits Rivers with giving him advice he can pass along to his new teammates.
“Doc was harder on me than any other player on that team last year,” Collison said. “He helped me grow as a player, and I thank him for that.”
Adding up – In the first two games, Collison was the only King to record more than one assist.
That changed Sunday. Four players had at least three assists, led by Rudy Gay with six. Gay was coming off a 40-point performance in Friday’s win over Portland.
“I just felt like after the game I had that I had to be a distributor, too,” Gay said.
Sunday, Gay said the Clippers were keying on him. “They were probing the pick-and-roll, so it was easy for me to make plays.”
Back in action – Derrick Williams played three minutes Sunday after sitting out Friday.
The Clippers were without reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford because of a rib injury.