After 23 games, Lance Stephenson's time with the Clippers can already be classified as rockier than an Indiana Jones Jeep ride. Doc Rivers (the GM) knew that he was trading for a young player with some well-established character concerns, but from the outside looking in, Lance appears to have been engaged on the court as well as on the bench and he's earned the respect of his teammates. Somehow, however, he's managed to quickly work his way into Doc's (the coach) doghouse.
In the six games since dropping 19-3-3 on the Indiana Pacers (while shooting 8/11 from the floor and 3/4 from three, mind you) in a game that he kept the Clippers in due to his energy and play-making ability off the bench, Lance has averaged under 12 minutes a game. The Clippers may be 5-1 in that stretch, but the bench has fallen back into the pattern of letting leads slip away due to an inability to move the ball and score on offense. Though the Clippers left Detroit with an overtime win last night, the all-bench unit that Doc trotted out to start the fourth quarter (sans Lance) watched a double-digit lead disappear in just a couple of minutes and very nearly cost the Clippers a victory.
When asked about why Lance didn't play, Doc quipped (via Ben Bolch, LA Times):
"We're going to go with him, tonight I just didn't feel like it. You know we won the game, right?"
Why Doc insists on having Lance, a player who he broke up last season's top 5-man unit in the entire league to acquire this offseason, ride the pine is beyond me. Yes, Stephenson is a wild card. He's going to turn the ball over and leave you scratching your head at times, but what he provides as a competent ball-handler and play-maker is something the second unit sorely needs. Not "feeling like it" isn't an adequate explanation for not giving Lance a chance to run point with the second unit and put out the dumpster fire that is the bench. In fact, it's not an explanation at all.