So far, Clippers’ bench strength is second to none

When the benches to clear Thursday night in Portland, it won’t be — hopefully — due to any on-court fracas, but because both teams really rely on their reserves.

The Trail Blazers (7-3) are getting a substantial 41.5 points per game from their bench, second-most in the NBA.

The only bench that was outscoring Portland’s as of Monday night? The Clippers’.

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Following their 120-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Clippers understudies were leading the league in points per game (56.9), and in a myriad of other ways, including assists per game (tied with the Charlotte Hornets at 10.9), blocks (3.3, again tied with Charlotte), field goal shooting percentage (52.8 percent), 3-point shooting percentage (45.7 percent) and overall efficiency (64.3 percent).

“We have different guys that can make plays, and on any given night, it’s gonna be somebody else’s night,” said starting forward Tobias Harris, who scored 22 points Monday but stayed sidelined for much of the fourth quarter while Clipper backups held the lead. “That’s the beauty of our team.”

Lou Williams — last season’s Sixth Man of the Year — contributes plenty to the bench production, as is expected. He poured in 20 points Monday and is averaging 19.1 points per game, which ranks 13th most among shooting guards in the league, amidst a host of starting stars.

First-year Clipper Mike Scott also has been effective and efficient in 12.9 minutes per game off the bench. He’s 9 for 17 from 3-point range and has a net rating of plus-37 in 129 minutes of play. He also has 13 assists and 25 rebounds.

On Monday, Scott’s 3-pointer with 8:27 to go in the fourth quarter made it 101-95 and proved to be, as Coach Doc Rivers put it, “huge,” effectively slamming the door on the Timberwolves, who’d just closed within a possession following two Derrick Rose free throws.

“Mike Scott, I thought, was huge,” Rivers said.

GETTING ROBINSON GOING

On the night Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got his first NBA start, fellow rookie guard Jerome Robinson got his first serious NBA action Monday, just more than 24 hours after warming up against G League competition.

Robinson scored 28 points in the Agua Caliente Clippers’ opener on 9-of-21 shooting Sunday afternoon before bringing that trigger-ready mindset to Staples Center. Against the T-wolves, he was part of the lineup — also featuring Scott, Williams, Milos Teodosic and Montrezl Harrell — that got the Clippers a lead early in the second quarter.

When that quarter started, the Clippers trailed 33-31. Five and a half minutes later, when Danilo Gallinari re-entered the game for Robinson, they were ahead 51-45, thanks in part to 3-pointers by Scott, Williams and a pair shot confidently by Robinson.

“We need him to look at the basket,” Rivers said. “I thought especially when he first came in, he didn’t hesitate. That’s the Jerome we need.”

Robinson, the No. 13 pick in the most recent NBA draft, said he was grateful that the G League experience got him him going.

“It just kind of builds that rhythm, that flow in the game,” said Robinson, who was the ACC’s second-leading scorer as a junior last season. “You’re not just sitting the whole time to getting actual minutes. I’m thankful that I got to go play yesterday and kind of just get in that rhythm and get in the flow of things and see how that felt.”

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