PRACTICE REPORT: CLIPPERS ON THE MEND

Blake Griffin

PHOENIX – Blake Griffin participated in a light practice Friday morning at U.S. Airways Center and said his sore left ankle feels better.

The team departed for Portland shortly thereafter. 

Griffin, who originally “tweaked” his ankle against the Golden State Warriors Monday, aggravated the injury when he stepped on Goran Dragic’s foot in the opening minutes of Thursday’s 93-88 loss to the Suns.

On the play he tracked down a loose ball near the baseline to retain a possession for the Clippers, but as he retreated to the defensive end Griffin was limping noticeably. After a Suns basket, the Clippers called timeout.

“He was kind of battling through it,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought he was limping a little bit in the first half, but he’s a competitive guy and wanted to be out there.”

Griffin finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and after the game said the injury was “not too bad.”

“I really did it three days ago against Golden State and I got better, but kind of just re-tweaked it,” Griffin continued. “It’s not terrible. To me, ankles are one of those things where you’ve just got to tolerate the pain.”

In three seasons since making his NBA debut, Griffin has played through a variety of bumps and bruises, but has yet to miss a game.

In the last 10 days, Griffin, who was named to his third All-Star Game last week, has averaged 19.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists. And in Monday’s loss, despite his tender ankle, he put in 26 points with 13 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks, a statistical performance that has only been matched by LeBron James in the last decade.

It has been needed with fellow All-Star Chris Paul absent from five of the last seven games in that span with a bone bruise in his right kneecap. Without Paul, Griffin said expects even more out of himself.

“I’ve got to do a better job of setting the tone early and being a leader,” Griffin said. “Especially when Chris isn’t out there.”