DALLAS – Clippers point guard Chris Paul went down with a right shoulder sprain against the Dallas Mavericks Friday and did not return.

Paul, his right arm in a black sling, flew with the team to San Antonio and will remain with them until they return home Saturday night. He will be re-examined by medical personnel Sunday and visit with a specialist Monday to determine the extent of his injury.

He is expected to be out a minimum of 3-5 weeks (10-18 games), according to Head Coach Doc Rivers.

“He’s down,” Rivers said when asked about Paul’s state of mind after the Clippers’ 119-112 comeback win. “He’s out at least 3-5 weeks and maybe more. We don’t know that, [yet]. We know it’s a separated shoulder. We don’t know what grade it is, yet.”

Paul sustained the injury with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter after coming around a screen and landing awkwardly on his right shoulder. He remained on the floor for a brief time, writhing in pain and clutching his shoulder. He headed to the locker room with Clippers trainer Jasen Powell as soon as he got up, spiking his mouth piece to the floor with his left hand as he walked towards the tunnel. 

Darren Collison replaced Paul, who had 19 points and six assists in 21 minutes when he exited, and played the final 18:43.

“Chris is one of the leaders of this team,” DeAndre Jordan said. “It was tough when he went down. Maalik [Wayns] and D.C. (Darren Collison) and guys like that are going to have to be ready to step up.”

On Friday Collison did just that, scoring a season-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting and adding four assists and three rebounds. Collison will start at point guard in Paul’s absence, while Jamal Crawford and, perhaps, second-year guard Maalik Wayns will spell him at times.

For Collison, it’s something of a familiar situation. In 2010 he spelled Paul, who was out with a knee injury, for two extended stints while the two were teammates with the Hornets. Collison scored 19 points per game and dished out 10 assists per game in 23 starts from Jan. 30 to Mar. 20. He also started 14 more games and finished the season averaging 12.4 points and 5.7 assists to finish fourth in Rookie of the Year balloting.

“I’m not worried about Darren, honestly,” Rivers said. “I’m more worried about when Darren gets tired and where do we go from there.

“I haven’t given it enough time to think. So, I don’t know what we’re going to do. We may go small more. We may go bigger more. I really don’t know what we’re going to do yet.”

Paul's injury is compounded by the fact that the Clippers remain without shooting guard J.J. Redick, who has not played since fracturing his hand and tearing a ligament in his wrist on Nov. 29. Redick will likely return this month, which could help cushion the loss of the league's best point guard. Still, playing without Paul and Redick is nothing that Rivers said he imagined heading into the season. 

“Obviously, you don’t ever want it,” Rivers said. “But I talk about it all the time. Stuff happens and you’ve just got to figure it out and get through the adversity part of it and keep winning.”

Paul has appeared in 34 of the Clippers’ 35 games this season, sitting out on Nov. 29 with a hamstring strain. He also missed 12 games last season with a bruised right knee.

“It helps a little bit,” Jordan said when asked if Paul’s extended absence last season can help in this situation. “During the preseason guys sat out so we kind of got a feel for what it would be like without guys. And D.C., we all believe in him, he’s going to be ready to play.”

It may also mean that more of a burden falls on Griffin as a playmaker and scorer. He’s already put up eight games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since Dec. 14.

“I’ve got to step up,” Griffin said. “There’s not a set amount of minutes or plays or anything like that that I can sit here and tell you that I’m going to have to do. But everybody’s got to step up and I’ve got to be the first one.”

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