Chris Paul, Caron Butler out

Updated: January 20, 2012, 10:29 PM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers will be without more than Chris Paul on Friday when they play the Minnesota Timberwolves. Clippers forward Caron Butler will also miss the game with a hyperextended right knee.

Butler injured the knee Tuesday against the Utah Jazz and played with the injury Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks, but he felt uncomfortable as the game progressed. Butler had his worst game of the season against the Mavericks, finishing with two points on 1-of-12 shooting, missing all four of his three-point attempts.

Last January while he was with the Mavericks, Butler suffered a ruptured right patellar tendon and underwent surgery on the knee, which knocked him out for the rest of the season. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Butler's current knee injury has nothing to do with last year's surgery and that an MRI taken on Butler's knee came back negative on Thursday.

"It was bothering him just a little bit, but then the other night it was bothering him some more," Del Negro said. "He said he feels a little bit better today, but with this season and the stretch we're in its best to give him a break tonight and hopefully he can get some therapy tonight and tomorrow and we'll see how he feels for Sunday.

"He wants to play but it's more prudent to give him more rest. He just needs a couple days hopefully."

Butler is currently listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors. Ryan Gomes will start at small forward in place of Butler.

Paul will miss his fourth straight game as he continues to deal with a strained left hamstring, but he went through drills on the Staples Center court for nearly an hour before Friday's game.

Paul is listed as questionable for Sunday's game as he recovers from the injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of the Clippers' 102-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Saturday. An MRI on Paul's hamstring Sunday came back negative.

"Chris is feeling better," Del Negro said. "He worked out this morning, got in some weights and therapy and got in a good workout before the game. I just talked to him and he feels good. We'll work him out tomorrow at some time and see exactly where he's at.

"We'll decide if it makes sense to give him some minutes (on Sunday). We'll have to build his minutes up. You know Chris, he's ready to go. He wants to be out there yesterday but we have to be smart about it and listen to doctors and trainers and get a minute number for Sunday and work off that."

Paul's absence was lessened this week as veteran guard Mo Williams returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing the past three games with an injured right foot.

Williams scored 26 points and had four assists and two steals in 35 minutes off the bench in the Clippers' 91-89 win over the Mavericks.

Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, who has been recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee, also worked out with the team Friday but is still roughly two to three weeks from returning to the lineup.

Clippers forward Brian Cook will also miss his fourth straight game with an ankle injury he suffered in Saturday's game against the Lakers.

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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