MINNEAPOLIS — Blake Griffin stood erect with his back up against the basketball stanchion for support, contemplating whether it was wise to push through back spasms that forced him from the game Saturday night in Houston or to rest.
Griffin decided to rest rather than play against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. He probably won't play at Phoenix on Wednesday.
The Clippers have seven regular-season games left before the playoffs start in about three weeks, and they want make sure Griffin is 100% healthy.
"This part of the season is important, obviously, as far as [playoff] positioning and everything else," Griffin said. "The last two years in the playoffs, I've been banged up. I haven't been 100%. I don't want it to be that way this year. So I'm trying to be smart about it and I'm trying to be proactive and not do anything to make it a prolonged, healing process."
Griffin suffered a sprained right ankle before the Clippers played Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, limiting his effectiveness.
Over the last few weeks, Griffin has had his back wrapped up in ice and heat because of off and on back spasms.
"Most of the time it's manageable," Griffin said. "It felt like Saturday wasn't really manageable. That was the reason for not coming back in."
Griffin was injured about midway through the first quarter at Houston, grabbing his back while falling on the court in front of the Clippers bench.
"I wasn't sure what I really felt. I hadn't felt anything like that," Griffin said. "I've had back spasms before, but it wasn't like the same. I just didn't know. You don't want to push the issue."
Jamal Crawford doesn't play
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford didn't play against the Timberwolves night because of a sore left Achilles' tendon.
The Clippers said Crawford's injury stems from the strained left calf that forced the shooting guard to sit out eight of nine games over a two-week period in March.
Coach Doc Rivers said he wasn't sure if they would shut Crawford down for an extended period of time.
"It's a concern, though," Rivers said. "Every time he plays two games it seems like since he's been back, it's sore again. We're going to talk about that probably in the next couple of days."
Crawford, who is third on the team in scoring (18.6 points per game), has played in the last five straight games since he sat out because of the calf injury.
"We're just being cautious," Crawford said.
The Clippers and Chris Paul played host to Iowa basketball Coach Fran McCaffery and his 14-year-old son Patrick, who had a malignant thyroid tumor removed two weeks ago, at the team's shoot-around before the game against the Timberwolves.