Chris Paul will start Game 6
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul went through practice Thursday without any restrictions despite having his bruised left thumb taped and will start Friday's Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin did not practice as he received treatment for his high right ankle sprain. Griffin will be a game-time decision for Friday's game.
Paul said the thumb will not be an issue after suffering the injury during the first half of Tuesday's Game 5.
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"I'm doing all right, I'm better," Paul said. "I'll be ready tomorrow."
Said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro of Paul: "He'll be fine."
Griffin is a bigger question mark after severely spraining his right ankle during Monday's practice. He was able to play only 20 minutes in Game 5 and wasn't very effective, finishing with 4 points, 5 rebounds and 2 turnovers before being taken out.
"It's a little better today, but I still have to stay on it for the next 24 hours and see how it feels tomorrow," Griffin said. "Hopefully I can give it a go."
Griffin said yesterday felt like a "step back" for his ankle but that it felt better Thursday and was hoping it would feel even better before Friday's game.
"If I'm able to go and I'm able to help us, it's really my job to play," Griffin said. "I owe it to my teammates. If I make the injury worse, there's no more season left, so it really doesn't matter anyway. I'll have a lot of time to rest and a lot of time to heal. As long as I can help my teammates and I can help us, I'm going to play. I'm not really worried about the future right now."
Del Negro said he will talk to Griffin and the team's training staff before deciding whether Griffin will play but could have a quick hook again if Griffin doesn't look right.
"We'll see tomorrow," Del Negro said. "There's obviously concern. He's one of our top guys, but you have to manage it, and it's something we're trying to deal with. He's trying to battle through it, but if he's not right, other guys got to go."
If Griffin is not able to play, Lamar Odom will start in his place. Odom got the majority of the minutes with the first team in practice and said if the Clippers want to win this series, they'll have to fight for it.
"It's about the attention to detail and understanding exactly what sacrifice is," Odom said. "How to sacrifice yourself for your team; to do anything in battle to win, to fight and to scrap. When we look at the tape, it's embarrassing because it seems like they're fighting just a little bit harder, and that's how they're winning these games."
Odom, who played in three straight NBA Finals and won back-to-back titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, has tried to impart some of his playoff experience on the Clippers to a surprisingly mixed reaction.
"I've been trying to do that all year," Odom said. "Some people listen and some choose not to, but this team is young, and this is the perfect time to not only have your eyes but your ears open because it's going to be hard. Like I tell them, it's only going to get harder. It's kind of like how life is. It's only going to get harder when you look at the West and trying to win an NBA championship. It's only going to get harder game by game, and you have to be tough mentally and physically."
Odom does believe that the Clippers having their backs against the wall might end up being a benefit for a young team that has played inconsistently during stretches this season.
"Sometimes it's good [to have your back against the wall]," Odom said. "Maybe for this team it's probably good. It's probably a good swift kick in the butt because you don't have a choice. You don't have a choice but to do all the little things that it's going to take to win, or we'll watch someone else advance and play for a championship."