Reporting From New Orleans —
Haven’t the Clippers been through this injury thing before here in New Orleans in November?
Last year, it was reserve guard Kareem Rush watching his NBA career vanish when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter against the Hornets.
On Tuesday, it was all-star center Chris Kaman spraining his left ankle in the first quarter against New Orleans. Now, of course, Kaman’s career is not in jeopardy. Far from it.
But it is a huge blow to a foundering, injury-riddled Clipper team, which lost, 101-82, to the undefeated Hornets at New Orleans Arena. Kaman’s leaving on crutches and possibly being out of action for a minimum of three weeks signals a season going south in fast-forward fashion.
The Hornets are the same team the Clippers were playing in the exhibition season last year when Blake Griffin suffered the knee injury, causing him to miss the entire season. And the Clippers were here in town for a game last season the day they learned Griffin would need surgery.
The Clippers (1-7) have lost to the Hornets 14 straight times and now face an even more problematic opponent, the Spurs, on Wednesday night in San Antonio. They committed 25 turnovers against the Hornets.
But back to Kaman’s injury, which was something of a fluke.
“We just ran one of our plays we only run a couple of times a game, and Rasual [Butler] threw the ball up there a little bit, trying to lead me to the basket,” Kaman said. “I think Chris Paul tried to come on the weak side to try to steal it and put his foot right where my foot was supposed to go. Basically, I just rolled my ankle right over right then and it was pretty painful for a second, and then it kind of let up.
“I’ve rolled my ankle about 10, 12 times in the past eight years. I knew it was going to be a good one.”
The Clippers were woefully shorthanded in the backcourt. Randy Foye has been out, and Eric Gordon missed the game because of an ailing left shoulder. The Clippers got Baron Davis back, in limited minutes, and he said his knee was feeling sore and that he was at about “65 to 70%.”
“That was my first time running up and down the court,” said Davis, who had four points and three assists in 10-plus minutes, coming off the bench. “It was like one of those things — Eric was going to be out and I was at shootaround, and I just felt I could do something…. It’s tough because it’s not feeling the way it should.”
The primary bright spot for the Clippers was rookie forward Al-Farouq Aminu coming off the bench and scoring a career-high 20 points, going seven for 10. His previous high was nine points against Dallas on Oct. 31.
New Orleans (7-0) continued its best start in franchise history and remains one of two unbeaten teams in the NBA, along with the Lakers. Coach Monty Williams has won his first seven games, becoming the fifth coach in league history to do so.
He spoke about one of his young players adjusting to the speed of the game, saying: “It’s like the Autobahn.”
“When you are playing all those young guys, the game gets very fast for them,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You can’t expect to win at home, on the road, anywhere, when you have that type of turnovers…. Not only don’t we get a shot, but we give them a transition play or an easy opportunity.”