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CLIPPERS

Clippers' Blake Griffin returns to very active duty

The rookie, who'd hurt his knee, takes part in a high-energy scrimmage. The team hosts the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.

October 09, 2009|Lisa Dillman

Blake Griffin's basketball torture -- jokingly called "detention" by one of his Clippers teammates -- came to an official end on Thursday.

Limitations were lifted and the power forward was free to roam and rebound at will during a high-energy scrimmage at the Clippers' training facility in Playa Vista.

Of course, the so-called detention was for his own protection. And it wasn't because he'd done anything wrong.

The Clippers rookie had been one tremendously frustrated No. 1 overall draft pick since he hurt his left knee a few days before training camp opened late last month. Griffin is scheduled to make his exhibition-game debut tonight at Staples Center against Portland.

"It felt good, man," Griffin said. "Especially just the last three days, I've been able to go out there and run up and down but not do any five-on-five or anything like that. It was great."

His teammates and the coaching staff noticed his increasing agitation at having to observe, having to stop him from doing too much on the court.

"That's the great thing," said Clippers General Manager and Coach Mike Dunleavy. "He wants to get out there and he wants to play. We keep telling him, 'Don't worry about it. There's going to be plenty of opportunity.' "

Said Griffin: "It was tough to sit out, especially not having even played a single game."

The rust will take time to lift. Dunleavy thought that Griffin would play 15 to 24 minutes against Portland.

Dunleavy said he thought the starting lineup against the Trail Blazers would be Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman.

Camby sat out the exhibition opener on Sunday at Golden State, as did backup point guard Sebastian Telfair, because of injuries. Both practiced on Thursday, and in fact, the Clippers had no injuries to report, a rare occurrence of late.

Griffin said he became a little less edgy to return when he watched the exhibition game against the Warriors and realized the exhibition/regular season has marathon-like qualities.

Still, he looked greatly pleased his term as an outsider had ended.

"I felt good. I mean, toward the end I had a few turnovers, but early on, I was taking shots," he said. "My biggest thing is I covered all my defensive assignments, especially at the right times. So that's the thing I need to do right now. The shots and the other stuff will come later.

"Right now, I just have to rebound and protect the basket."

Dunleavy was pleased with Griffin's depth of knowledge of what is required at the positions of small forward and power forward.

"If you ask him a question where to go and what to do actually from two spots -- from the four and the three -- that was a big positive based on yesterday just running through plays with him," Dunleavy said. "He's got that stuff down.

"Now you have to get on the court and it's got to flow for you as well. There's certain things that he'll be picking up. Timing on stuff and stuff that will come with repetitions."

Additionally, in an expected move, the Clippers waived free-agent forward Taj Gray. Gray had been injured almost all of training camp.

That cut brings the roster down to 17 players.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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