Troublesome back keeps Craig Smith out of lineup

Just when a Clippers bench player appears to be gaining traction, gathering the slightest bit of momentum … guess what happens.

An injury.

It happened to Brian Cook in the last minute against Detroit on Friday when he suffered a sprained right ankle. It is a high sprain and he will be out for at least a week and then will be reevaluated.

Craig Smith was effective off the bench in the Clippers' one-point victory at Chicago on Saturday with 13 points and six rebounds. And he was not in the lineup Monday against Minnesota.

"His back has been bothering him," said Coach Vinny Del Negro, who added that Smith was scheduled to have an MRI exam.

Smith had been bothered by his back on the Clippers' recent three-game trip, and had issues with it last season too.


Clippers forward Ryan Gomes has been interviewed by federal agents in the last month in connection with a probe involving Connecticut State's Atty. John Connelly, the Hartford Courant reported.

At issue, apparently, is whether Gomes contacted Connelly about his cousin's prison sentence, the newspaper reported. Keith Gomes agreed to a three-year prison sentence for first-degree assault in 2007 but then received what the Courant called a rare sentence modification, approved by Connelly, which cut six months off his sentence.

The period was well before Gomes, a native of Waterbury, Conn., joined the Clippers. Gomes signed as a free agent in July and played for Minnesota for two seasons before that. He started his NBA career in Boston. He would have been with the Celtics when Keith Gomes was charged in 2006 with first-degree assault.

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