PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler practiced Friday for the first time since last week, when he suffered a left elbow strain, and hopes to start Sunday when the team plays the New York Knicks.
Butler, who was wearing a protective sleeve on his left elbow as he went through practice, was relieved to be back on the court, five days after he injured his elbow Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. He initially believed he had torn ligaments in his elbow before MRI results came back negative.
"I'd never felt nothing like that," Butler said of his injury. "I was worried because it was spasming up and I lost my motion and feeling and extension. I was extremely worried. Once I got to the back, it calmed down and I got my feeling back but I couldn't get any extension. That's weird to go down one possession and dunk the ball and I can't straighten it the next."
Butler wasn't expected to return until next week, but felt good to go Friday and went through the entire practice with no restrictions.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Butler actually started to feel better Wednesday and almost played in the Clippers' loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
"He was almost a go the other day, but we wanted to get him back at practice," Del Negro said. "He's got some stiffness and soreness there, but hopefully he'll feel better."
Butler, who had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 25 minutes before getting injured Sunday, is averaging 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds this season.
The Clippers likely will be without Eric Bledsoe Sunday. The point guard, who has missed the past two games with a sore left calf and sat out practice Friday, is listed officially as a game-time decision.