Blake Griffin sustained a sprained left knee late in the third quarter and Chris Paul strained his right hipflexor a few minutes later. Paul also jammed his right middle finger earlier in the game. Both players returned to play in the fourth quarter as the Clippers attempted to rally from as many as 24 points down.
“We were making a run, and I go off the medical advice,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Our doctor and trainer said that they were both fine, and we had to get Chris out of there at the end. He was hobbling a little bit. So that really was it. They said that they could go back in, so they went back in.”
Griffin’s injury occurred with 1:31 left in the third after he got his leg tangled with Marc Gasol while in the air and landed awkwardly. Griffin was down for several minutes before limping off the court under his own power to a surprising chorus of boos from the FedEx Forum crowd.
Gasol was whistled for a foul on the play and Griffin came back after a timeout to make 1-of-2 free throws. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for his first career playoff double-double. He is expected to have an MRI Thursday in Los Angeles and is listed as day-to-day.
“I will get the MRI tomorrow and then we will go from there,” Griffin said. “It was painful, but it didn't feel anything like [the patella knee injury] before.”
Griffin had surgery in January 2010 to repair a broken kneecap that he sustained in the team’s final preseason game, costing him the entire 2009-10 season. He has not missed a game since, suiting up 153 consecutive times between the regular season and playoffs.
Guard Randy Foye, who was on the bench at the time, said he was concerned when he originally saw Griffin fall on Wednesday. “We really couldn’t see [from the bench], so we didn’t know what was going on.
“[It was] definitely a tense couple of minutes, it might have felt a little like the Bulls felt when D-Rose [Derrick Rose] went down because when someone jumps and comes down like that and you see them tugging at that knee, it’s not a good sign. But [Griffin] got back up and continued to play.”
Paul, who entered the series with a mild left groin strain, injured his right hipflexor midway through the fourth quarter. He continued to play despite appearing hobbled, before being removed for less than two minutes to be examined by head athletic trainer Jasen Powell. He returned to the game with 3:47 left, before Del Negro took him out for good 2:22 later.
“I don't know what happened,” Paul said. “I just felt a sharp pain. I'll be alright, I'll be ready. I'm playing Friday. I tried to go but I couldn't. All that matters right now is that I'll be good to go on Friday. There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. We'll go back home and get our fans ready to go.”
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