Blazers bench has Mo-mentum with Williams

Veteran guard a key reason for team's hot start

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

 
photoPortland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams.

The Portland Trail Blazers bench has a new motor.

Mo Williams has been the catalyst for a revamped bench unit. They have been making an impact on a nearly nightly basis.

Tonight, Williams will take on his former team as the Utah Jazz come to the Moda Center. The Blazers hope to improve to 3-0 on a four-game homestand and grab their 16th win out of the last 17 games.

Williams has helped by being more than competent at the point guard position and allowing Damian Lillard to play off the ball. But he's also given them a different style and dimension to their attack.

"When Mo comes into the game, you notice a change in the feel of the game," said head coach Terry Stotts. "He pushes the ball with the dribble. You can just sense the pace of the game changing when he comes in."

Lillard's overall shooting numbers have been down but, he says there is no doubt that Williams' presence has helped him.

"It's been really helpful," Lillard said. "I don't have to handle the ball the whole time, get us into the offense, guard the other point guard the whole time. It makes it easier over the course of the game."

Lillard has also been able to get more rest while Williams leads the team. He's averaging two fewer minutes per game than last season, which may not sound like a lot, but it accumulates over 82 games.

While Williams is known as a scorer, he pushes Portland, especially when he is the only ball-handler on the court during Lillard's rest time.

Crunching the data of when Williams is on the court without Lillard shows his effect.

In two five-man line-ups without Lillard, Williams pushes Portland's normally below average pace to a top-ten pace, meaning they average more possessions per 48 minutes when he is running the show as the lone ball-handler, per NBA.com.

"We knew we had to come in and kind of be the deciding factor of the game," Williams said after their win against Indiana where he scored three straight baskets in the fourth quarter. "We had to kind of push the tempo, make plays and give our team a chance to win."

Pushing the pace and giving his team a chance to win is exactly what he's been able to do so far this season. Now his new team has as many wins as his former team has losses.