Clippers forward Craig Smith is cleared to practice

Reporting From Milwaukee

Almost every day, without fail, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro is asked about the status of the long-term injured threesome: Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon and Craig Smith.

Days go by … no change. Weeks go by … little change.

Finally, Smith was the one moving the needle ever so slightly, saying after the Clippers' loss to the Bucks on Monday that he had been cleared to practice.

Smith has not played since suffering a herniated disk in his lower back on Dec. 18, which required an epidural.

Because of the loaded schedule and All-Star break, his chance for a full-out practice with his teammates probably won't be until Monday.

The Clippers play the Timberwolves on Wednesday and then scatter for the All-Star break before reuniting on Monday. There are two more games on the road before the trade deadline Feb. 24 — at Oklahoma City on Feb. 22 and at New Orleans the next night.

For Blake Griffin, another NBA milestone. It will be Griffin's first game back home at Oklahoma City, and he joked about the occasion, saying he hoped he didn't get booed too much. And it's also a measure of his hectic schedule that Griffin hasn't had time to contemplate the homecoming.

"Less than a week away," he said, adding that he'd start looking forward to it on Sunday after the All-Star activities wrapped up.


Ryan Gomes had one of the better lines about the toll the long trip is taking on the players and their families.

"Skype is not doing it," he said.

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