BREAK COMING AT IDEAL TIME FOR BANGED UP CLIPPERS
The Clippers have played the most games in the NBA through Monday. They are coming off a stretch of three games in four nights, playing in three separate cities. They have been without three of their top four guards since the weekend, and Chris Paul has too many nicks and bruises to name them all.
Sixty-nine games into the season. It’s time for a break.
The Clippers (48-21), who had their season-best 11-game win streak snapped in Denver, do not play again until they host Detroit at home. Outside of All-Star Weekend, it is the first four-day break they’ve been granted since Jan. 11-14. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
They have been without shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is dealing with a bulging disc in his lower back, for nearly six weeks. Jamal Crawford has missed eight of the past nine games with a strained left calf. And Darren Collison did not play in the Sunday-Monday back-to-back against the Cavaliers and Nuggets due to a stomach virus.
“I’m looking forward to [the time off], for sure,” Blake Griffin said. “Especially with all the guys we have banged up, getting guys healthy and getting D.C. back and hopefully Jamal and J.J. making improvements. The four days will definitely give us some much-needed rest.”
With the Playoffs on the horizon, Paul is one that may need the rest more than anyone. He has played through injury since making his return from a right shoulder separation on Feb. 9. He appeared to land awkwardly on Timofey Mozgov’s foot in Denver, but remained in the game and finished with 29 points. He has dealt with a litany of injuries including a slightly sprained ankle, a sprained thumb and minor groin problem.
“For me, it will be the same, get some rest, get in the gym and work on some stuff,” Paul said.
Through it all, though, the Clippers won 11 games in a row and 14 of their last 17. They are expected to practice Thursday and Friday before taking on the Pistons at Staples Center Saturday night. The time off should afford them a chance to reincorporate Collison and perhaps even Crawford.
“It’s going to take [Crawford] time because he’s been out a while,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s just going to take him time to get back his rhythm. And if J.J. [comes back] the same thing. We’ve just got to get everybody back so we can get the right group out there and playing together more.”
Griffin recalled the four days off in January as refreshing.
“It really did some good for us,” Griffin said. “We had injuries back then, too. It’s just crazy it seems like we play every other day and then get four days off. It seems like they could spread it around, but we’ll take it.”