MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It has been a trying season for Caron Butler, made even worse when he suffered a fractured left hand in Game 1 of the Clippers’ unreal 99-98 come-from-behind victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round Western Conference playoff game Sunday night.
The Clippers said Butler will be out four to six weeks because of the injury.
Butler said he was injured in the third quarter when his hand got caught in the jersey of Memphis’ Rudy Gay. Butler had his hand wrapped up after the game.
“It popped back a little bit,” Butler said. “I continued to play, but when I got subbed out, I felt it throbbing a little bit so went in and got an X-ray and noticed I got a fracture.”
Butler has had his share of bad luck in the playoffs.
Butler missed the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run last season after he suffered a ruptured tendon in his right knee Jan. 1, 2011.
Butler had 12 points Sunday night. He returned to the bench and watched his teammates overcome a 27-point deficit to win the playoff game.
“I’ve got mixed emotions,” Butler said. “Having this injury is obviously disappointing. But at the same time, winning the game and coming back after the huge deficit is still rewarding. So, I take the good with the bad and keep moving forward.”
He signed a three-year, $24-million deal with the Clippers in December, but it has been an up-and-down season for Butler.
His average of 12 points and his 40.7% shooting this season were both the second lowest during his 10-year career.
“I think you have to give Caron a lot of credit,” Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He battled through it this year with a tough schedule missing all last season with that type of injury. And I think this summer when he has a little bit of time, he’ll feel a little bit better and I suspect him to get a little bit more of his bounce back.”
The Clippers were the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA during the regular season, making only 68%.
Now that they are in the playoffs, Del Negro admitted that it “puts a little more pressure” on the Clippers if they can’t make free throws.
“When you’re missing free throws, it’s like a turnover,” Del Negro said. “And in these [playoff] games, it’s like a possession game. Everything is magnified. But I have confidence in our guys.”
With good reasons.
The Clippers shot 73.9% from the free-throw line in Game 1, including two by Blake Griffin to pull the Clippers to within 96-95 with 1 minute 30 seconds left and two by Chris Paul with 23.7 seconds left for a 99-98 lead that stood.