LOS ANGELES -- Zero-degree temperatures and Friday rush-hour traffic kept the last bus carrying Los Angeles Clippers players and coaches from arriving at Chicago's United Center until less than 35 minutes remained before tip-off on Jan. 25.
Any player would have been expected to come out cold, given the lack of a warmup, and Lou Williams, who was among those on the last bus, was no exception. The Clippers' sensational sixth man missed his first three shots.
But Williams opened the second quarter by making a 26-footer, a layup and a pair of midrange jumpers. In the third quarter, he scored eight straight points. In the fourth, he had four assists.
On a night in which the Clippers might have shrugged off a loss to circumstance, Williams led the Clippers to a victory and produced not only the first career triple-double in his 14-year career -- 31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists -- but another chapter in the legend of Lou, the player who has redefined what it means to be a scorer, and reserve, in the NBA.
"This one I'll celebrate," Williams said that night.
Performances such as that mean Williams could be celebrating again now.
Williams can tie former Clipper guard Jamal Crawford as the only three-time sixth man honorees in league history Monday when the NBA hands out its annual awards at a ceremony in Santa Monica's Barker Hangar. Other finalists for top reserve include Clippers teammate Montrezl Harrell and Indiana's Domantas Sabonis.
Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank called himself "really, really optimistic" that Williams will match Crawford's record, and Williams is considered the heavy favorite to do so after averaging 20.0 points and 5.4 assists in 26.6 minutes this past season.
Along the way, Williams has done something even more difficult than become one of the league's most feared scorers despite limited minutes: He has brought a rare cool to an often unglamorous role. No reserve in NBA history has scored more points or name-checks in Drake tracks than Williams, a 6-foot, 180-pound guard who boasts a signature pair of underwear and celebrities among his admirers.
"He's the only person on the team who can kind of calm me down, other than Doc, you know?" said teammate Patrick Beverley, referring to Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "So you got to respect Lou in that standpoint, and he's cool, he leads by example. When he talks, people listen."