RIVERS SAYS COLLISON MAY HAVE TO SIT

Darren Collison is playing through a sprained left big toe
Darren Collison is playing through a sprained left big toe.

CHARLOTTE – Darren Collison, who is playing through a sprained left big toe, did not look himself for much of Wednesday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

His injury appeared to prevent him from applying the ball pressure he has thrived on defensively and limited much of his offense to spot up jumpers. He finished with 12 points and five assists in 29:50, but was not on the floor down the stretch in the fourth quarter and moving forward Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks it may be in the team’s best interest to sit Collison out.

“He’s struggling,” Rivers said. “He couldn’t move and you kind of had a feeling, and I was right, that they were going to go [Jannero] Pargo and [Ramon] Sessions and start going pick-and-rolls. He’s trying but you could see him laboring up and down the floor. It’s tough. At some point, we may have to make a decision to sit him down as well.”

Collison has started the past nine games in place of Chris Paul, who separated his right shoulder on Jan. 3. The Clippers have gone 6-3 in that stretch with Collison fueling them on both ends of the floor. But that changed in the first quarter versus the Indiana Pacers when Collison landed awkwardly in the first half and went back to the locker room for a brief period.

He returned to the game in Indiana and started the past two games, but has not been the same player who averaged nearly 16 points and seven assists in Paul’s stead.

“He can’t be himself, especially pressuring the ball, attacking the basket,” Jared Dudley said. “So, it shows you what kind of his competitor he is trying to work through it.”

Collison received treatment after the game and said his toe did not bother him as much as it did Monday against the Pistons.

“It was a little better,” Collison said. “I still felt some discomfort.

“I thought the day off helped. Today it felt better than last game, so I’m assuming Friday it will feel better.”

The Clippers head to Chicago for game five of their seven-game road trip Friday. If Collison is unable to play, Jamal Crawford or Darius Morris, who is on his second 10-day contract with the Clippers, could possibly start.

“I really think [sitting Collison out is] what we may have to do,” Rivers said. “I’m looking at D.C. and I’ve had that injury myself and it doesn’t get better playing. We’re going to have to sit and decide how bad is it? Is it something that is not that bad? We’ve got to make a decision, soon.”

Said Crawford, “It’s one thing [with] Chris missing everybody has to pick up and play for him. And now if D.C. is missing for a little bit we’ll all have to step up more. It’s been that kind of a season, though.”

Collison, Crawford, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are the only four Clippers rotation players who have appeared in all 44 games thus far. J.J. Redick missed 21 games with a broken hand and partially torn ligament in his right wrist, Matt Barnes was sidelined for a month with a lacerated retina and Paul has not played since the beginning of the month.

“It’s going to be tough,” Dudley said. “Obviously, point guard is probably the most valuable position you have. It runs the offense, so if [Collison] is unable to play it puts in a bind with [Paul out]. Darius and Jamal will have to take over the load. You just try to hold