Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 4/29/12


MEMPHIS–Clippers small forward Caron Butler stood in front of the training room doors in the locker room after the game with a large bandage around his fractured left hand.

He sustained the injury in the third quarter when his hand got stuck in Rudy Gay’s jersey, but he remained in the game for a short period. His status for the remainder of the Clippers’ first round series with the Grizzlies is not immediately known.

“It popped back a little bit and I continued to play throughout the third quarter and was able to be a little effective, made some shots,” said Butler, who finished with 12 points in 23 minutes. “When I got subbed out, I felt it throbbing a little bit, so I went and got an X-ray and noticed that I had a fracture.”

After the game, Butler was resigned to juggle his emotions between selfish and selfless. His teammates had just completed a triumphant comeback and as would always be the case with someone of Butler’s character; he chose the latter.

“I’ve got mixed emotions,” Butler said. “Having this injury is obviously disappointing, but at the same time, winning the game and coming back after a huge deficit is still rewarding.”

Asked what his hand injury would mean going forward, Butler took a deep breath before saying, “I don’t know. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Swingman Nick Young, the backup for both Butler and Randy Foye throughout most of the final month, will likely start in Butler’s absence. Following the game, Gay, who Butler spent a majority of Sunday matched up with, said he was unaware of Butler’s diagnosis.

“I didn’t know [Butler fractured his hand],” Gay said. “Anything can happen and people step up. We’re not expecting anything to be easy with Caron or without Caron.”

In 63 regular season games, Butler averaged 12 points on 40.7% shooting, including 35.8% from the 3-point line. He scored a season-high 28 points in the Clippers’ five-point loss to the Lakers on April 4.

Butler missed last season’s championship run as a member of the Dallas Mavericks while he was recovering from a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee. At the All-Star Game in February, former teammate Dirk Nowitzki was adamant that Butler played was major reason the Mavericks won the championship.

“He was a huge influence for us, even though he got hurt,” Nowitzki said in February. “Just his leadership and seeing him work hard every day to come back from a brutal injury, I think was inspirational for all of us.”



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