Clippers rookie Blake Griffin getting back in step
One, indeed, was the loneliest number.
His teammates had long cleared off the court at US Airways Center, having finished their pregame duties. Baron Davis went down to the far end of the court to work on his shot, along with his mentor, Clippers assistant coach John Lucas.
Finally, Davis retreated to the locker room to get ready for Friday night’s game against the Suns in Phoenix.
Which left one player out there: rookie power forward Blake Griffin.
Griffin worked on his shot, taking free throws and then longer-range shots until about 15 to 20 minutes before game time.
This was a rare road trip with his Clippers teammates for Griffin, who has been out all season because of a stress fracture in his left kneecap.
But he was able to see his family for Christmas and do some of that team-bonding thing, breaking out from the isolation of his long-and-winding rehabilitation schedule.
A light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps?
“A little bit,” he said. “Just got to keep going and progress. It feels good. The true test will be doing body weight stuff.
“It helps being around the team, being a part of it, just being involved in it.”
Griffin had tests on the knee early in the week, and signs were looking positive enough to go forward with the next step of rehab: getting clearance to start on an anti-gravity treadmill.
If all goes well, he could resume basketball-related activities in less than three weeks.
And, quite possibly, the league’s No. 1 draft pick could make his NBA regular-season debut in late January.
“We’ll just take it week by week and next week bump it up to the next level -- not really sure what this is,” Griffin said. “We’ll talk to the doctors and coordinate.
“It was a relief. But at the same time I’ve still got to show improvement through these next few weeks.”
Marcus Camby has been through enough injuries to know what is truly serious, and the veteran did not think his hyper-extended left knee fell into that category.
Still, he thought it made sense to get an MRI exam on the knee Saturday.
Tests came back negative, and his status has been called day to day.
Camby injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ game at Houston on Tuesday and felt a recurrence of swelling in the first quarter of the blowout loss to the Suns.
He left the game after playing only 10 minutes.
The Clippers trailed by just a point when he came out, and it went downhill quickly after he departed.