REDICK: ‘I DIDN’T FEEL LIMITED’

J.J. Redick recorded 12 points in his return.

LOS ANGELES – J.J. Redick raced around several screens, running what was likely the equivalent of a basketball marathon in one possession.

He never got the ball, but if nothing else his activity and motion was proof enough that Clippers’ best shooter was back.

Redick, who missed 25 straight games with a bulging disc in his lower back, returned Thursday night in the Clippers’ 113-107 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He scored a dozen points off the bench, going 3-for-10 from the floor in 23:36. He made two 3-pointers and missed four, including one with less than a minute to go that would have given the Clippers a one-point lead.   

“Whether it was realistic or not, I expected myself to play a great game tonight, and I didn’t,” Redick said. “I felt like I could’ve given us a bigger boost. Not just shooting, but with energy and stuff, especially coming off a trip, and I didn’t give my team that, so I’m frustrated with myself.

But for a day his output was inconsequential. It was Redick’s return, after weeks of uncertainty about whether or not he’d play again this season that mattered.

“It was great to get J.J. back,” Chris Paul said. “He’s still trying to find his rhythm. You know we haven’t had too many practices. He just played. He really hasn’t had many chances to practice and things like that; and I think he did great and we’re going to need him.”

It was his first game since Feb. 3 in Denver, when he labored around and hardly looked like the player who in 30 games had become one of the Clippers’ most reliable all-around threats. But where Redick matters most, more than even his ability to space the floor as a 39-percent career 3-point shooter, is the attention he draws running. 

“J.J. is who he is no matter when he plays,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “If he plays three minutes, he’s coming off of screens. If anyone used him differently, that wouldn’t be so bright. J.J. is going to be J.J. It’ll be good to see if he can do it.”

And for the most part he did and felt fine physically doing it.

“I didn’t feel limited,” Redick said. “I felt limited by my rustiness, but physically, I didn’t feel any limitations. We don’t practice a lot, and during warm-ups today I was like, “What am I doing?” I’m just very humbled and very grateful I got play in an NBA game this season. There were definitely some days and some moments that it didn’t look that way.”

While Redick gets in rhythm over the final five games of the regular season, managing his back injury is something that will likely be necessary until the summer.

“It’s probably going to be for the rest of the season,” Redick said. I had a herniated disk in 2006, and made it eight years without missing a game due to a back issue. So this is just something I’ll have to manage the rest of the season. But, because of the nature of this one, not so much being pain-related but nerve-related, there was no timetable. There was no guarantee the nerve would respond without surgery. It was a little bit different and that’s why I say I just have to manage it and stay on top of things and just continue to be keenly aware of what’s going on with my body.”