Blake Griffin practiced with Clippers, looked ‘phenomenal’

first_imgWes Johnson has had good shooting games this season, but he’s had more poor ones. He’s shooting a career-low 39.5 percent overall, just 31.9 percent from 3-point range. That’s his lowest percentage from deep since shooting 31.4 percent — his worst — in 2011-12 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.Johnson spoke candidly about his struggles Saturday.“Obviously, you know you want to see your shots go in,” the 6-foot-7 guard-forward said. “It’s just been one of those things, they haven’t been falling. But when I get them, I’ll take them. So I just have to continue to shoot. Don’t know if they’ll go in unless I shoot it, so it’s one of those things I’ve gotta shoot my way out of.”Johnson said he’s watched film to study his mechanics, and he’s imposed on teammates for their thoughts.“I come to the bench and ask everybody, ask the players what they see, ‘Do I need to hold it more? Am I rushing it?’ ” he said. “I ask the coaches. So it’s one of those things I could break myself; I just want to see from everybody else what they see as well.”Rivers hasn’t noticed anything mechanically wrong.“No, he’s just not making them,” he said. “I don’t think he’s hesitating much, which I don’t want him to. I think at times, he probably is; anybody would. But we just keep telling him to shoot it.“I even told him in front of the team and a couple of other guys, ‘If I see you hesitating one time, I guarantee you come out.’ ”Johnson is averaging 6.6 points and 20.3 points in 71 games, seven of them starts.Beware of DenverThe Nuggets may be 31-42, but they still have an outside chance at the playoffs and they beat the Clippers 87-81 the last time they played on Feb. 24 at Staples Center.“They’re one of those teams, you look at their wins, they’ve had some impressive wins this year,” Rivers said. “You’ve just gotta be ready to play them.” PLAYA VISTA >> Blake Griffin practiced with the Clippers on Saturday, which means he is nearing his return to action for the first time since Christmas. He has missed 41 consecutive games with a partially torn left quad tendon and fractured right hand.The Clippers (44-27) are 27-14 without their power forward and leading scorer.Griffin’s right hand healed more quickly than the quad injury, even though the former happened Jan. 23 and the latter was discovered the day after Griffin and the Clippers beat the Lakers on Dec. 25.Griffin has been shooting and conditioning for a while, but this was his first actual practice, which means he is cleared for contact. “Yeah, well, we’re not going to do much contact anyway,” coach Doc Rivers said before practice. “He’s just going to go and see what he can do. We’ll go from there.”After practice, word came from a Clippers spokesman that Rivers said Griffin looked “phenomenal” in practice and did not sit out at all. His conditioning was better than expected. Griffin still must serve a four-game suspension imposed by the team (with input from the league) for fracturing his hand on the face of team assistant equipment manager Matias Testi on Jan. 23 in Toronto, once the Clippers deem Griffin ready to play. With his high marks Saturday, that could take place before Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.If that’s the case, Griffin would be eligible to return April 3 when the Clippers host the Washington Wizards. That would give Griffin seven regular-season games to shed the rust ahead of the playoffs. And there will be rust, Rivers said, “because you’re not playing basketball.”Johnson’s shooting strugglescenter_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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