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Clippers' Spencer Hawes struggles with foot strain

Clippers' Spencer Hawes struggles with foot strain
Spurs forward Boris Diaw drives between Clippers forwards Hedo Turkoglu, left, and Spencer Hawes (10) in the first half. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Spencer Hawes should resist the temptation to kick himself over a slow start to the season.

His foot is too tender.

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A strained left foot is a large part of the reason Hawes had not made the impact the Clippers envisioned before a bit of a breakthrough Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs.

Hawes was unusually spry during the Clippers' 89-85 loss at Staples Center, collecting an alley-oop pass from Blake Griffin for a dunk and blocking a shot by Tony Parker. Hawes finished with nine points, two rebounds and one assist in 14 minutes.

Hawes said his foot has been bothering him for about three weeks. He aggravated it against Golden State last week and was placed on a minutes restriction.

"Those are never fun," he said.

Hawes entered the Clippers' game Monday averaging 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game, well below his career averages of 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 24.8 minutes.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers blamed himself for failing to optimize Hawes in his playing rotation, though that didn't make Hawes feel any better about his struggles.

"It's like anything," said Hawes, who signed a four-year, $23-million contract this summer. "You want to make a great first impression, you want to come in and prove that you can fit in, that you belong, and sometimes you kind of press. I know kind of my personality, that's what I kind of tend to do. So it's a fine line of trying to make an impact without overdoing it."

Rivers said Hawes would not practice this week in order to accelerate his healing. The Clippers don't play again until Saturday against Phoenix.

Mr. Flexible

Feel free to use whatever job description you want for Jamal Crawford. He'll happily oblige as long as he gets to play.

Crawford started for the first time this season last weekend against Portland and retained that role against the Spurs.

"Whatever, man," Crawford said. "I'm a baller, I'm a hooper. Just get me out there. I'll start, come off the bench, play the one, two, three."

Rivers said he started Crawford because it boosted his team's offense, though he said he would assess his lineup game by game. Rivers rested Crawford about halfway into the first quarter against the Trail Blazers, allowing him to reenter with the second unit.

Crawford finished that game with 20 points, most of them coming when he played with the reserves.

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"I guess when you're looking at the stat sheet, you're like, 'Wow, nobody in the second unit scored,'" said Rivers, whose bench combined for five points against Portland. "Well, actually, [Crawford] did score."

Crawford said he liked the double duty of starting and playing with the reserves.

"Actually, it's a little bit easier because my body is already warm, I'm already out there, so I have a taste of what the game is like," he said. "Every game I have butterflies, so I kind of get that out of the way in the first part and get out there and settle in."

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