CP3 OUT WITH HAMSTRING STRAIN
SACRAMENTO – Clippers point guard Chris Paul will not play Friday night due to a strained right hamstring.
“He's out,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We're not going to play him.
“I told [Clippers trainer] Jasen [Powell] I wanted him to be way more conservative than aggressive on it. We have a bunch of games coming up. It's just smarter to rest him.”
Paul suffered the injury in the third quarter Wednesday against the Knicks. He made a move off the dribble and drew a foul as he hopped past a defender to pass the ball to Blake Griffin in the corner. A foul was called on the play, and as Paul walked to the free throw line he reached toward his right leg.
He stayed in the game for two possessions and finally left for good after throwing bounce pass to Griffin for a dunk. Paul said he could have returned to the game in the fourth quarter, but Rivers remained cautious.
Asked if he thinks Paul will miss just one game with the injury, Rivers said, “I think so, but I'm not sure. If he's feeling better, he could play Sunday [against the Pacers], but if not, we're not going to take that chance. After Sunday, we have two more days off so it could be two games. We just don't know yet.”
The Clippers play Sunday at home against Indiana before embarking on a seven-game road trip that begins next Wednesday in Atlanta.
With Paul out, Darren Collison will start at point guard. Collison started 37 games in Paul’s stead when the two were teammates with the Hornets in 2010. It is the first game this season the Clippers have not used the same starting lineup. The 16 games in a row with the same five starters was a franchise record.
“We still want to play at the same pace,” Rivers said of using the speedy Collison. “That shouldn't change at all. Obviously, few people can see the floor like Chris. So when you don't have him, you're going to miss things. We just have to make it up in other areas.”
Jamal Crawford, the team’s leading scorer off the bench, will serve as the reserve point guard. Crawford said it will be a matter of shifting mentalities from scorer to distributor.
“You have to find balance, obviously,” Crawford said. “I think they’re as different of mentalities as you can have, I’ve said in the past, as far as shooting and setting guys up. Because a shooter’s mentality is to be aggressive and attack and a point guard is to set the table for everybody else.”
It is not the first time the high-scoring guard has slid into the reserve point guard role with Paul hurt. He played backup point guard behind Eric Bledsoe in 2012-13 when Paul missed 12 games with a bruised kneecap.
“He was out for a while and after Bledsoe would come out I’d have to switch,” Crawford said. “And then Grant [Hill] started taking more of the ball and it freed me up to go score a little bit.”
Even so, Crawford, who was drafted as a point guard in 2000, may like a great pass as much as a highlight basket.
“I really like passing the ball because ever since I’ve stopped playing point guard I’ve been put in a box as a scorer,” Crawford said. “But there’s much more to my game.”
With Paul out against the Kings, it will be a chance for Crawford and Collison to show it.