WITH PAUL ON THE MEND, CLIPPERS CONTINUE ROLLING
MILWAUKEE – Chris Paul was on the court prior the Clippers’ 114-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks putting in his most extensive shooting workout since separating his right shoulder more than three weeks ago.
Paul, who was injured in the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 3, has been building up his workout regimen over the past few days. He is expected to return sometime in the original six-week timetable that was set after an MRI examination confirmed his Grade 3 separation of the right AC joint in his shoulder.
“No one has said that there’s any change as far as a deadline or anything,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But he feels great. I still think it’s probably All-Star break or in that area.
“I know he’s shooting a little bit now. The fact that he can run and do the conditioning is great. But it still has to heal.”
Without Paul the Clippers have gone 9-3 since Paul went down, including winning five of seven on their annual Grammy trip for the first time in team history. They also have owned the league’s most efficient offense in that span, scoring 112.8 points per 100 possessions.
“I didn’t know what our record was going to be, but we have a lot of good players,” Rivers said. “We’ve been making up lineups with our guard rotations and they just do it. We have a good group. We clearly need Chris, but you’re going to miss games with your guys you have to still win them.”
Darren Collison, who has at least 10 points and four assists in 11 of the 12 games in Paul’s starting spot, has been a factor in helping the Clippers (32-15) gain ground in the Western Conference. He’s shouldered the load at point guard, shot the ball effectively and provided ball pressure defensively despite playing through a sprained big toe for the past six games.
In addition to Collison, it has been a community effort in terms of handling Paul’s role as a distributor. Sometimes it falls on Blake Griffin and when the Clippers go to the bench it’s been Jamal Crawford, who averaged 25.4 points per game on the seven-game trip, and lately Willie Green.
“We’re combo guards. We’re basically playing three positions,” Green said of himself and Crawford. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to do to what we’ve got to do to win games and we don’t mind sharing the point guard duties.”
The ability to use multiple players in lineups that Rivers would say are “made up” on the fly has afforded the Clippers roster flexibility. The team declined to sign point guard Darius Morris for the remainder of the season after his second 10-day contract came to end Saturday and Rivers said he’s keeping his options open.
“I don’t know if it’s a point guard,” he said. “We may add a player. I don’t know if it’s any time soon or not. I’m going to wait until I get back, and we’ll sit around and discuss it. There’s nothing imminent that we’re looking at.”