Eric Bledsoe is coming of age in the 2012 NBA Playoffs

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Eric Bledsoe has come a long way in his second season playing for the Los Angeles Clippers.

First he had to deal with knee surgery in October to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee that left him sidelined right up until the start of the regular season.

Then he had to deal with the Clippers bringing in not just one, but two talented veteran point guards in Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul to a backcourt that already included Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Bledsoe.

As a result, Bledsoe played a grand total of just 1 minute through the Clippers first 24 regular season games.

In the month of February Bledsoe played in just 8 of the Clippers 14 games, averaging a mere 6.2 minutes per game. In March, Bledsoe earned more playing time (and Billups was injured) and played in 19 of the Clippers 20 games, averaging 10.5 minutes per game.

By April, Bledsoe was playing 16.2 minutes per game and played in every game.

Now in the playoffs, Bledsoe has continued his upward trend and after another stellar performance in Game 7 yesterday, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register caught up with Bledsoe to talk about his strong biceps and his role on the Clippers bench.

From the Orange County Register…

After a punishing seven-game series, Eric Bledsoe stood in front of his locker with his shirt off, answering questions after the Clippers’ 82-72 win Sunday afternoon in Memphis.

Bledsoe, usually as soft-spoken as they get in the Clippers in the locker room, flashed a huge grin when he was asked about the physical play in the series.

Before he answered Bledsoe looked down at his tattooed biceps and said this:

“As you can see, there’s some physicality here.”

Bledsoe, Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Mo Williams and Nick Young came off the bench Sunday with the Clippers down one to start the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got one good bench,” Bledsoe said. “Mo can produce. Nick was terrific. K-Mart and Reg, they do what they do.”

Six minutes later when Bledsoe and Martin checked out, the Clippers were up nine.

“That’s what we do,” Bledsoe said. “The bench comes in and tries to change the pace of the game and the momentum of the game. We just tried to get stops and run.”

The Clippers bench scored 41 of the team’s 82 points in the win.

“That was unreal,” Chris Paul said. “This win goes to them guys.”

Forward Blake Griffin said he thought Bledsoe came of age during the series, making his mark on a number of the Clippers’ wins.

“He’s embraced his role,” Griffin said. “He comes off the bench and he’s instant hustle. He’s instant speed. He’s just all over the place. It’s fun to watch.”

Now, the next step is harnessing Beldsoe’s abundance of speed and energy.

“He’s a pest and he knows that,” Paul said. “It helps me out when we’re in the game together and he can guard the ball for awhile. He’s a pest defensively. We’re just trying to get him to control it.”

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