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Clippers' Blake Griffin hopes to return Thursday against Cavaliers

Hello, Cleveland?

Clippers forward Blake Griffin said he was targeting a five-game trip that starts Thursday in Cleveland for his return from the partially torn left quadriceps tendon that has sidelined him since the day after Christmas.

"That's the plan," Griffin said Friday. "I don't know what game from here on out. It's safe to stay [Saturday's] not an option, but I wouldn't rule anything else out."

The Clippers play home games against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday and the Houston Rockets on Monday before departing for a trip in which they will face the Cavaliers on Thursday, the New York Knicks on Jan. 22, the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 24, the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 26 and the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 27.

Griffin said he had resumed some basketball activities for the first time Thursday and did not feel any soreness Friday, which would allow him to take the next step in his recovery. His shooting coach and trainer were both at the team's training facility.

"As long as there's no soreness, you kind of keep going," Griffin said. "If there's not, you take a step back."

Griffin said his quadriceps started bothering him during the Clippers' game against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 2, but he kept playing until the discomfort became unbearable against the Lakers on Christmas.

"I'd been used to playing with it hurting," Griffin said when asked how he persevered against the Lakers. "I just kind of kept going, but I wasn't able to really push off or do what I wanted to."

Griffin said his tendon was torn less than the 50% threshold that would have required surgery. His next doctor's appointment is Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, center DeAndre Jordan received treatment at the Clippers' training facility Friday and was feeling better but remained questionable for the team's game against Sacramento on Saturday at Staples Center. Jordan missed the Clippers' game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday because of pneumonia, ending the NBA's longest active consecutive games played streak at 360.

The Clippers have won all nine games in Griffin's absence and beat the Heat without Griffin and Jordan, which Griffin called "the biggest win we might've had all year."

Griffin pinpointed a few reasons for the Clippers' success without him.

"The second unit has been unbelievable," he said. "The way they're playing, they've been a huge, huge reason for our success. They've been extending leads, they've been great."

Griffin said he did not know or care whether his absence had hurt him in All-Star fan voting. He was fifth with 396,630 votes in the latest frontcourt figures released Thursday, trailing the Lakers' Kobe Bryant (1,533,432), Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (774,782), Golden State's Draymond Green (499,947) and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard (487,626).

Clippers point guard Chris Paul remained third among guards with 410,284 votes, behind Golden State's Stephen Curry (1,206,467) and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (609,901).

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The top three frontcourt players and top two guards in fan voting will be the starters in the All-Star game Feb. 14 in Toronto.

Awards season

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers received the Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Award from the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles on Friday for his commitment to the development of youth programs for underserved communities in the city.

CLIPPERS NEXT UP

VS. SACRAMENTO

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Kings 16-23, Clippers 26-13.

Record vs. Kings: 2-0.

Update: Sacramento has been especially erratic in recent weeks, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder and losing to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Kings' season took a turn for the better Thursday when Rudy Gay made a 17-foot jump shot with one second left to give them a 103-101 victory over the Utah Jazz. Sacramento trails the Jazz by only one game for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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