Clippers' Caron Butler (hand) starts

Updated: May 5, 2012, 6:09 PM ET
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Despite suffering a fractured left hand that was supposed to sideline him 4-6 weeks, Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler started Saturday's Game 3 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Butler, who suffered a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left hand with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter of Game 1 on Sunday, saw a hand specialist on Thursday in Los Angeles and shot around with the team on Friday, wearing a brace on the hand.

"Being able to go out there and support my team is the most important thing to me," Butler said in a statement before the game. "I can play through the pain if it means I can help us take the lead in the series."

Butler arrived at Staples Center more than three hours before Saturday's game and was cleared to play after going through shootaround. He wore a soft protective cast in the game.

"Maybe we underestimated his toughness," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Obviously, he has a fracture in his hand but we're going to see if he can work through some of it."

Butler didn't talk after the shootaround but previously had said he wanted to see if there was any way he could play with the injury after missing last year's playoffs with the Dallas Mavericks following knee surgery. Butler was replaced in the starting lineup on Wednesday by Bobby Simmons.

"He went through some stuff yesterday but hopefully, when he gets out there, the adrenaline will kick in," Del Negro said. "Caron is tough. He's a pro. He missed the playoff run last year in Dallas and he wants to be a part of this. Obviously it's a great time of year and he's such a big part of our team. The guy is tough."

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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