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CLIPPER REPORT

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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