Clippers' Hedo Turkoglu scores season-high 19 against his former team

14-year veteran Hedo Turkoglu moves into starting lineup with small forwards sidelined by injuries

They acted like teammates once again late Wednesday night, Hedo Turkoglu and Vlade Divac, loudly cackling after Divac lumbered into the Clippers' locker room to catch up with his old friend.

The banter had been a touch more adversarial only a few hours earlier.

From his courtside seat inside Sleep Train Arena, Divac instructed Turkoglu to stop making shots against the Sacramento Kings, the team they both helped reach the Western Conference finals in 2002.

Turkoglu, as one might expect, refused to comply.

"I said, 'I have to,' " Turkoglu recalled telling Divac, now the Kings' vice president of basketball and franchise operations. " 'I'm wearing a Clippers jersey now.' "

The credit should go to Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who re-signed Turkoglu last summer in hopes that the 14-year veteran would have a few nights like he did during his team's 116-105 victory over the Kings. Turkoglu made seven of 12 shots, including five of 10 from three-point distance, while scoring a season-high 19 points.

"He was huge for us," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "He was like the Turk I remember watching in Sacramento."

Turkoglu, who turned 36 on Thursday, had played sparingly this season before moving into the starting lineup this week, with small forwards Matt Barnes and Jordan Hamilton sidelined by injuries.

All Turkoglu did against Sacramento was score nine points in the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers that helped the Clippers extend their advantage to double digits after the Kings had made it a one-point game. It was only Turkoglu's third game scoring in double figures this season.

"We've lost a few guys to injuries," Turkoglu said, "so I have to just jump in and try to do my best until those guys come back."

Rivers said he re-signed Turkoglu only after Turkoglu promised over the phone that he had gotten into great shape. He wasn't kidding. When Turkoglu showed up at the Clippers' practice facility, he was about 10 pounds lighter than last season.

He has more than carried his weight for someone at such an advanced stage of his career.

"He went from not playing to starting," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said of Turkoglu. "He's just a consummate vet."

Arm's race

Regaining the form on your jump shot might be just a little more difficult when one arm is bigger than the other.

That's the challenge facing Griffin, who acknowledged his right arm was "considerably smaller" than his left after recently having his right elbow locked in a brace because of surgery to remove a staph infection.

"If that arm's not feeling normal, I don't know how you get that back where the jump shot's normal," Rivers said. "I don't know how long that takes."

Griffin made 15- and 18-footers against Sacramento but also missed from 12 feet, 16 feet (twice), 19 feet, 20 feet (three times) and 21 feet. He finished the game making seven of 16 shots and has made 19 of 38 shots (50%) in the three games since his return, a tick below his 50.1% accuracy for the season.

"I'm not really concerned about the shots," Griffin said, "because I'm not there strength-wise. That will come. I just have to be patient with it, I guess, and try to do other things to help the team."

CLIPPERS VS. WIZARDS

When: 7:30 p.m. PDT.

Where: Staples Center.

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

Records: Wizards 40-28; Clippers 44-25.

Record vs. Wizards: 0-1.

Update: Washington has won five consecutive games and six of its last seven, including an 88-84 victory over Utah on Wednesday that marked the start of a four-game trip. The Wizards beat the Clippers, 104-96, when the teams met in December.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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