For Jamal Crawford, the end of the season feels more like the beginning.
The reigning sixth man of the year missed five weeks because of a severe right calf bruise that he needed to have drained twice, returning to the court Tuesday after being out since March 2.
Following Tuesday's 105-100 win over the Lakers, the Clippers had no practice Wednesday and Thursday, but Crawford did not take a break.
He practiced each of those days, doing scrimmage drills and trying to regain his conditioning.
"It still feels like training camp to me," Crawford said. "It's only like the sixth day I've been on the court."
In his first game back, Crawford finished with only four points on two for seven shooting, including missing each of his four three-point attempts in just under 19 minutes of play. It was a far cry from the 16.4 points on 40.1% shooting he was averaging before the injury.
After the game, Crawford said his legs felt as though he were carrying a teammate on his back, and playing 19 minutes felt more like 35.
Crawford wasn't able to start running until last week, and Tuesday was the first time he played five-on-five. Before Friday's practice, Crawford said that his legs still felt sore, but he thinks he's making good progress.
"Each day I think is going to get a little easier, and each day the rhythm comes back a little more," Crawford said.
The Clippers (53-26) and the San Antonio Spurs (53-26) are tied for fifth place in the Western Conference, only half a game behind the Memphis Grizzlies (53-25) and Houston Rockets (53-25), who are tied for second place. The Clippers have only three games remaining in the regular season.
Crawford said he anticipates he'll be at 100% by the time the postseason begins.
"I still don't feel absolutely 100% consistent with it," Crawford said. "It's a process, it just takes time. I'm confident I'll have it before the playoffs."
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