HOUSTON – When Blake Griffin was a few feet away from the Clippers’ bench and had been reduced to crawling due to an injured back, Doc Rivers admitted he was “scared.”

“It scared the hell out of me because I’ve had that reaction myself and that’s a back injury,” Rivers said following the Clippers’ 118-107 win over the Houston Rockets Saturday. “They don’t think it’s awful.”

Griffin left the game with 5:49 left in the first quarter and did not return. Rivers said the MVP candidate and Clippers’ leading scorer is day-to-day with lower back spasms. 

Griffin, who has started all 74 games this season and has missed just two games since making his NBA debut in 2010-11, was injured as the flashed into the paint in front of Rockets second-year forward Donatas Motiejunas. He got bumped in the lower back, took a step forward, grabbed at his back and slowly dropped to his knees a step or two beyond the 3-point line.

Matt Barnes signaled for timeout as Griffin was clearly in pain and Clippers trainer Jasen Powell tended to him briefly on the court before Griffin limped to the locker room under his own power.

Griffin was dealing with lower back problems a couple of weeks ago in Utah, but did not miss any time. According to Rivers, he’s also been suffering from a sore hip lately.

“It was a hip,” Rivers said. “They were telling me yesterday that it had nothing to do with the back. But I think that’s what triggered it. Whatever was going on before is what triggered the back injury.”

With just eight games remaining, including two more on the Clippers’ five-game road trip, the team is likely to exercise caution with Griffin. The Clippers clinched their third consecutive postseason berth with their victory Saturday.

“I’m not sure how bad it is,” Rivers said. “I just don’t know yet. I mean, clearly if it’s something where [Powell] says, ‘It’s your call.’ Then that means no. If it’s may call then no. I want it to be the trainer’s call where he knows he can play.”