GRIFFIN ’50-50’ VERSUS TIMBERWOLVES
MINNEAPOLIS – Blake Griffin will be a game-time decision Monday night when the Clippers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth game of their five-game road trip.
Griffin left Saturday night’s win over the Houston Rockets midway through the first quarter with lower back spasms and did not return.
“It’s improved since Saturday,” Griffin said following shootaround Monday at Target Center. “But I still wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent.”
The injury occurred with 5:49 left in the first quarter when he was bumped in the back by Donatas Motiejunas. Griffin took a few slow steps towards the sideline before going down to his hands and knees and eventually laying on the floor near the Clippers’ bench. He limped off the floor a couple of minutes later alongside Clippers trainer Jasen Powell.
“I got bumped but it wasn’t like a hard bump,” Griffin said. “I feel like if it hadn’t happened there it would have happened next time I was in the lane. So, I don’t think it was the force, but it just happened to be right then.”
“I wasn’t sure what I really felt. I’ve had back spasms before, but it wasn’t the same.”
According to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, the final decision about Griffin’s status will be made by Powell.
“At the end of the day, I’m not going to watch him warm up or anything, so [Powell] will make the decision,” Rivers said. “The trainers and Blake will [decide], but if he does play and I don’t like the way he’s moving that’s when I get involved. I think it’s 50-50.”
Griffin, who is averaging a career-high 24.0 points per game in his fourth season, has missed just two games since making his NBA debut in 2010-11. He has started all 74 games for the Clippers (52-22) this season. But after two consecutive years of being banged up come playoff time, the approach with Griffin’s ailing back will be more cautious with just eight games left in the regular season.
“The season is important, obviously, as far as positioning and everything else,” Griffin said. “But the last two years in the Playoffs I’ve been banged up. I haven’t been 100 percent, so I don’t want it to be that way this year. So, I’m trying to be smart about it. I’m trying to proactive and not do anything to make it a long healing process.”
If Griffin is unable to play, the Clippers could go small and start Jared Dudley alongside Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan in the front court or use Glen Davis or Hedo Turkoglu at power forward. The decision is made more difficult because the Timberwolves have 6-foot-11 Nikola Pekovic and 6-foot-10 Kevin Love on the front line.
“We have to make a decision do we go really big or do we go small and against a really big team then play chicken. That’s a hard one.”