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Clippers continue stretch run for playoffs with two starters still sidelined

Two of the Clippers' main cogs, starters Danilo Gallinari and Avery Bradley, are sidelined by injuries during the team's most important stretch of the season.

Gallinari is perhaps the closest to returning after the forward was listed Sunday as day-to-day with a bruised right hand.

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The return of Bradley, one of the top two-way guards in the league, from a sports hernia is more uncertain.

Gallinari had two X-rays, Thursday after the injury at Golden State and Friday night in Phoenix, and both revealed no broken bone in his hand.

"There was nothing structural," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before his team practiced Sunday. "The doctor thought he was day-to-day and that it would be a pain tolerance thing."

Bradley missed the last two games because of the injury. He has sought more medical advice, but he still hasn't been cleared.

"Avery is going to be out for a little bit so we're just going to have to figure out how long," Rivers said. "Don't know. It could be a week. It could be three weeks. But we don't know yet."

Bradley tried to practice last Tuesday but was in too much pain to finish the session.

"The bottom line is, it's a tough injury to have," Rivers said. "It's the same one that Jawun [Evans] has. And especially with what Avery does. He's one of the top-five defensive players on the ball in the league and that's all movement there. So, it's a tough blow, but it is what it is."

Rivers was asked if surgery was an option for Bradley.

"Yeah, it probably is at some point," Rivers said. "But that would be his season. I think those are the injuries that a lot of players have. I think he has to consider it after the season, but not now."

The Clippers (31-27) just have to push forward with 24 regular-season games left and the playoffs in view.

They are in ninth place in the Western Conference, just one game behind Denver (33-27), which would be the eighth and final seed for the playoffs. The West standings are so tight, that only 4 1/2 games separate No. 3 San Antonio (36-25), which won at Cleveland on Sunday, and No. 10 Utah (31-29).

The Clippers face two teams this week ahead of them — the Nuggets on Tuesday night in Denver and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

"Obviously this is the stretch run right here so it's frustrating," Rivers said. "It's probably more frustrating for everyone right now, but we still have to figure out a way to win this game. Then hopefully Gallo plays (at Denver), and if not, see if he can play by Houston. If not, you just got to keep going that way.

"It's the same thing with Avery. I mean, Avery could be back within a week. We don't know that. We just got to make sure he's healthy."

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Twitter: @BA_Turner

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