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Clippers’ Blake Griffin has stepped up activities but is not cleared to play

Clippers forward Blake Griffin has no timetable for a return to the lineup, although he must still serve a four-game suspension once he recovers from his injuries.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin has no timetable for a return to the lineup, although he must still serve a four-game suspension once he recovers from his injuries.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

A thought struck Clippers Coach Doc Rivers as he watched Blake Griffin work out Wednesday.

“In my mind I’m thinking, well, we could use some of that tonight,” Rivers said later in the day before the Clippers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. “I actually said, ‘Can he play tonight?’ ”

That wasn’t an option, of course. Griffin hasn’t practiced or been cleared by a doctor to return from the quadriceps injury and broken hand that have sidelined him since Christmas. There’s also the matter of the four-game suspension Griffin must serve for punching assistant team equipment manager Matias Testi.

But Rivers’ assessment confirmed Griffin’s declaration Tuesday that he was “very close” to rejoining the Clippers. Rivers said Griffin had accelerated his activities the last few days, progressing from shooting and conditioning to more rigorous movements.

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“He looked like he was normal out there,” guard Austin Rivers said. “He was shooting it like Blake shoots it, from that midrange. He was rolling to the basket, jumping high. He looked pretty good, so he’s got to be pretty close.”

Doc Rivers said Griffin had not been cleared for contact, meaning doctors do not believe his right hand has sufficiently healed to risk a blow to the area that could trigger a setback. Griffin has sat out as many games (30) this season as he has played.

Rivers said that getting Griffin back as soon as possible was important because of the Clippers’ difficult schedule over the next month as well as the need to give Griffin more than a handful of games to find his rhythm before the playoffs.

“If we don’t have the luxury, we don’t have the luxury,” Doc Rivers said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Tough day for Thunder

Aubrey McClendon, a part owner of the Thunder who was facing charges of conspiring to fix bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases, died in Oklahoma City after his car slammed into a concrete bridge pillar.

Police said that McClendon’s car was traveling at excessive speed at the time of the crash. McClendon, 56, was not wearing a seat belt, according to an Oklahoma City Police Department incident report obtained by the Associated Press.

“It was just a tough and terrible day,” Thunder Coach Billy Donovan said. “He always treated me very, very well. He was a very generous guy and I’m just saddened by what happened.”

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McClendon, a founder of the Thunder who was part of the team’s move from Seattle to Oklahoma City, was indicted Tuesday on allegations he “orchestrated a conspiracy between two large oil and gas companies to not bid against each other for the purchase of certain oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.” The indictment charged that conspirators predetermined who would win bids, with the loser receiving an interest in the leases.

McClendon had denied any wrongdoing.

Etc.

As expected, the Clippers signed forward Alex Stepheson to a second 10-day contract.

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