His hair­cut sig­nals he’s close to a re­turn

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Ben Bolch ben.bolch@la­times.com Twit­ter: @latb­bolch

DEN­VER — To fig­ure out how close Ja­mal Craw­ford is to play­ing again, check his hair length.

The Clip­pers shoot­ing guard grew out his hair be­cause of bore­dom dur­ing his month­long in­jury lay­off be­fore cut­ting it this week, per­haps the surest sign he is near­ing a re­turn.

“I had noth­ing else to do,” Craw­ford said Fri­day of let­ting his hair grow. “I usu­ally don’t have the pa­tience.”

Craw­ford’s slowly heal­ing bruised right calf has se­verely tested his pa­tience, but he hopes to re­turn next week so that he can play in a few games be­fore the play­offs. Pos­si­ble re­turn dates in­clude Tues­day against the Lak­ers or April 11 against the Mem­phis Grizzlies.

“That’s def­i­nitely the goal, to play as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Craw­ford, who has been side­lined since be­ing kneed in the calf March 2 against the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves.

Craw­ford said his calf had been drained of fluid twice to pro­mote heal­ing but some swelling would re­main “for a while.” On the plus side, Craw­ford said he would not have to worry about rein­jur­ing the area once he is cleared to play.

Craw­ford said he had re­sumed bas­ket­ball ac­tiv­i­ties only within the last few days. He did some shoot­ing while his team­mates prac­ticed Fri­day.

“The hard­est part is go­ing to start now as far as con­di­tion­ing and tim­ing,” Craw­ford said. “Like now, I’ll shoot a ball and it feels like it’s go­ing in and it’s way short. And the ones that feel nasty are go­ing in. I’ve just got to get the rhythm and get in game shape.” No com­plaints

The Clip­pers have largely muted them­selves since Coach Doc Rivers in­structed his play­ers to stop com­plain­ing to ref­er­ees.

In the nine games since Rivers de­liv­ered his edict, the Clip­pers have re­ceived only three tech­ni­cal fouls: one each on De­An­dre Jor­dan , J.J. Redick and Spencer Hawes .

Matt Barnes , whose 12 tech­ni­cals rank among the league lead­ers, no longer ap­pears in jeop­ardy of earn­ing a one-game sus­pen­sion that is trig­gered when play­ers re­ceive 16 tech­ni­cals. Blake Grif­fin is sec­ond on the Clip­pers with nine tech­ni­cals and Jor­dan is third with seven.

Rivers talked to his play­ers about stay­ing mum af­ter Grif­fin re­ceived his most re­cent tech­ni­cal March 15 against Hous­ton.

“In my opin­ion we were [com­plain­ing] the whole game,” Rivers said, “and I think since that game our guys have been much bet­ter be­cause we have to be. We have to fo­cus.” Low blow?

Port­land cen­ter Chris Ka­man tweeted a pic­ture of Clip­pers point guard Chris Paul strik­ing him in the groin with his left hand in the mo­ments be­fore Ka­man shoved Paul to the court with two hands Wed­nes­day.

“Ouch . . . ” tweeted Ka­man, who re­ceived a fla­grant-1 foul for his push. The Clip­pers then went on a 33-11 run dur­ing their 126-122 come-from-be­hind victory. Etc.

Paul is among five fi­nal­ists for the J. Wal­ter Kennedy Cit­i­zen­ship Award, pre­sented an­nu­ally by the Pro Bas­ket­ball Writ­ers Assn. for com­mu­nity ser­vice. The other fi­nal­ists are Chicago’s Joakim Noah , Or­lando’s To­bias Har­ris , Detroit’s Greg Mon­roe and Mem­phis’ Zach Ran­dolph .

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