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Clippers' Paul Pierce to start instead of Josh Smith against Wizards

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:57:23 AM America/Los_Angeles

The Washington Wizards are quite familiar with Paul Pierce playing power forward. Last year in the playoffs, Pierce's play at that spot led to a 4-0 sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the first round and a competitive second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, the Wizards have to face Pierce in that same role.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Pierce, not Josh Smith, would start at power forward in Washington, via the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner. Smith had started in place of the injured Blake Griffin but only played five minutes in the Clippers' previous game, a 109-104 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

In that Jazz game, Pierce started the second half and scored a season-high 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 5-for-7 from deep. His 3-pointer with 28 seconds left was perhaps the biggest play of the night.

With floor-shrinker Luc Richard Mbah a Moute starting at small forward, this move makes sense. Pierce, unlike Smith, provides spacing. The only concern is Pierce's ability to handle a big increase in playing time -- the 38-year-old played 27 minutes on Saturday, and had previously only hit the 25-minute mark three times this year.

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