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Knee Injury Sidelines Rice for Opening Games in Japan

October 22, 2003|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

With holes still to fill at center and point guard, add yet another gaping hole for the Clippers: small forward.

The club learned Tuesday that Glen Rice has a hyperextended right knee, which will sideline him for at least two weeks. Rice will miss the team's two remaining exhibition games and its two-game, season-opening series against the Seattle SuperSonics in Japan. Rice hopes to return for the Clippers' Nov. 7 game at Denver.

"I'm just glad it's only two weeks," Rice, 36, said. "I was hoping it was only two weeks. My knee was sore and tight, and I figured there was something wrong. It felt like there was a huge knot back there."

Rice suffered the injury in Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I tried to go on a back-door play," he said, "and the knee gave out on me a little."

Rice sat out Sunday's game against the Golden State Warriors, and then underwent an MRI exam on Monday that revealed the damage.

"I am going to have to take a step back," he said. "I don't want to sit. I don't want to have to go through rehab."

That would certainly not be Coach Mike Dunleavy's preference, either. Rice has been a Clipper for less than two weeks, having signed as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Houston Rockets. Learning the tendencies of new teammates and the basics of a new system from a seat on the bench is hardly ideal.

"This was valuable time for him," Dunleavy said.

"This offense is pretty easy to learn," Rice said. "I have a playbook and there's a lot of ball movement, which I like."

Rice told reporters after practice Tuesday at L.A. Southwest College that he had torn a ligament. Not just told them, but went into great detail about how it appeared in the MRI exam.

It turns out he was looking at a tendon in his right knee that he tore two years ago. That injury has long since healed.


After playing the Lakers on Thursday at the Arrowhead Pond and the Warriors on Friday at Staples Center, the Clippers will leave Sunday on a weeklong journey to Japan.

The Clippers' season opener against the SuperSonics will be played on Thursday evening, Oct. 30, in Saitama, outside Tok- yo.

For those die-hard Clipper fans who want to hear it live, the game will be broadcast on XTRA (1150/690) and shown on NBA TV beginning at 2:30 a.m. PST Oct. 30.

The Clippers and SuperSonics play again Nov. 1 at noon (7 p.m. PST Oct. 31).

The Clippers will leave Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. and arrive home, with the 17-hour time difference, at 7 a.m. Nov. 2.

Is Dunleavy concerned that a journey halfway around the world will leave his players already worn out at the start of a long season?

"I've heard all that," Dunleavy said, "but I don't want to buy into it."


Forward Elton Brand, who suffered a sprained left ankle last week, resumed practicing Tuesday.

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