Jamal Crawford's return for Clippers a sight for sore eyes, and legs

Jamal Crawford returns after missing five weeks with calf injury, a boost for Clippers' overworked second unit

Doc Rivers and Mike Woodson watched Jamal Crawford park his car at the Clippers' practice facility about two weeks ago.

Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that Crawford could barely get out of his vehicle.

"We looked at each other," Rivers said of himself and Woodson, one of his assistant coaches, "and said, 'Well, that's not a good sign.'"

There was a far more pleasing sight Tuesday night at Staples Center when Crawford walked to the scorer's table late in the first quarter and checked into a game for the first time since he suffered a severely bruised right calf five weeks earlier.

The veteran shooting guard acknowledged some nerves before the game, saying he "felt like a rookie." He briefly lost the ball on a crossover dribble early in the second quarter before making a 21-foot fadeaway jumper while being fouled.

Crawford said he wanted to play in the Clippers' final four regular-season games to prepare for the playoffs and wouldn't place much emphasis on results, good or bad.

Crawford said the turning point in his recovery came a week or so ago when he had fluid drained from the calf a second time. He only recently began full-scale workouts and described himself as feeling like it was the fourth day of training camp.

In an interesting development, the only part of his body that was not sore, Crawford said, was his calf.

Rivers said getting Crawford back would not only help the team's underwhelming second unit but mean more rest for starter J.J. Redick, who often logged minutes with the reserves during Crawford's absence.

"I didn't like that, even though he played well," Rivers said of Redick. "I thought he was playing too many minutes in a row, so at least we can get away from that."

Scheduled madness

The Clippers will close the regular season with lots of rest . . . followed by a super busy stretch.

They don't play for three days starting Wednesday before playing three games in four days. Rivers said he would give his team Wednesday off before having his reserves go through a practice Thursday to help Crawford round back into form. The team will then hold a full practice Friday before playing the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at Staples Center.

One thing Rivers likes about the final portion of the schedule is that the Clippers will be off April 15, the last day of the regular season, giving them an additional day of rest before the playoffs.

Rivers said he had not decided whether he would rest any of his starters over the season's final three games. Point guard Chris Paul hopes to play all 82 games for the first time in his career and center DeAndre Jordan has played in 319 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch

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