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."
The Clippers have largely muted themselves since Coach Doc Rivers instructed his players to stop complaining to referees.
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."
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.
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.
CLIPPERS AT DENVER
When: 6 PDT Saturday.
Where: Pepsi Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.
Record vs. Nuggets: 1-1.
Update: The Clippers are returning to the site of the game where they received seven technical fouls during a December loss to Denver. "Let's do it again," joked Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who was infuriated by his team's technical difficulties that night. The Nuggets have lost seven of nine games but did beat Golden State and Atlanta on their home court last month.