BUTLER OUT WITH STRAINED ELBOW, CRAWFORD AND BLEDSOE ON THE MEND
PLAYA VISTA – Clippers small forward Caron Butler is expected to miss “approximately a week” with a strained left elbow, according to Head Coach Vinny Del Negro.
Butler sustained the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s 32-point victory over the Detroit Pistons. He underwent an MRI Monday morning after having X-rays taken at the arena the night before.
“There wasn’t anything structurally or anything. He just has a strain,” Del Negro said. “We’ll give him some time off and reevaluate him. But they’re (the training staff) telling us about a week.”
To some extent Monday’s news about the extent of Butler’s injury came as a relief.
“Last night I wasn’t too optimistic when I saw him in the training room after,” Del Negro said. “He was in a lot of pain.
“It spasmed up, so he couldn’t straighten it. He didn’t get hit or anything. It just spasmed. A guy was coming down on him and it (his elbow) kind of got caught.”
Butler has missed three games this season due to injury, including most recently on Feb. 11 in Philadelphia when he sat out with a sore lower back. In two seasons with the Clippers, he’s appeared in 95-percent of the team’s games, less than two years removed from surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon.
Matt Barnes is expected to start in place of Butler, who had scored in double-figures in eight of his last 11 games. Veteran Grant Hill will likely fill in as the backup small forward.
“We’ll have to make our adjustments,” Del Negro said. “You don’t want anybody to miss any time, but if it’s only a week or so that’s pretty good news for us after last night seeing Caron after the game.”
MORE INJURY NEWS
Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford practiced Monday after sitting out the past two games with a sore left ankle. Del Negro said he is optimistic Crawford will be able to play Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Crawford is the league’s leading scorer off the bench, averaging 17.2 points per game, and has scored 20 or more points in each of the last four games he’s played.
Reserve guard Eric Bledsoe did not practice, however. Bledsoe missed Sunday’s game with a sore left calf that has been a nagging problem over the last several weeks. He’s clearly been limited by it. Since Feb. 14, when he said the injury originally occurred against the San Antonio Spurs, Bledsoe has just seven steals and has not scored more than seven points in a single game.
Bledsoe is listed as doubtful for Wednesday as Del Negro tries to get him along with Crawford and Butler fully healthy for the stretch run.
“We need to be healthy going into the playoffs,” Del Negro said. “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, a lot of things we have to work on and you can only do that if we’re healthy.”