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Vinny Del Negro finally playing with a full deck

Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman are back from injuries, which means an adjustment for Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan.

March 04, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro is hoping to his team will remain healthy for its final 20 regular-season games.
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro is hoping to his team will remain healthy… (Kyle Terada / U.S. Presswire )

All season long, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro could look down his bench and see more of his key players in street clothes than in uniform.

In a strange cycle, injuries kept decimating his roster, and when one player returned healthy, another seemed to go down.

For the first time this season, though, everyone is back, leaving Del Negro to declare Friday that he has "more firepower and more weapons."

But that raises questions about how he uses the newfound depth.

When staring guard Eric Gordon sat out 18 games because of a wrist injury, backup guard Randy Foye, who had also had a wrist injury, averaged 17.5 points in Gordon's place.

When starting center Chris Kaman was out nearly two months with an injured left ankle, backup center DeAndre Jordan helped lead the Clippers to nine-game home winning streak in January, a month when he averaged 8.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.

With Gordon and Kaman back, what happens to Foye and Jordan?

"Higher standards spark competition," Del Negro said. "Guys that are getting it done out there will have an opportunity, but a lot of times it's matchups and foul trouble and things. Those things kind of take care of themselves."

Del Negro would like to develop a consistent rotation in the Clippers' final 20 games, but that it probably will include familiar faces. "We know what the core guys of the team are and they're obviously guys that help you win," he said.

Gordon returned Wednesday against Houston and scored 24 in 35 minutes. Foye played 20 minutes and scored two points.

"You definitely have to adjust, but it's a good thing," Foye said. "You can't look it as minutes are being taken or shots are being taken away. The opportunities are there."

Injury update

Del Negro said guard Mo Williams' sprained right ankle is improving and that "it's still sore, but he didn't re-injure it, which is good."

The former All-Star guard had 17 points and 14 assists in 31 minutes in a 106-103 win Wednesday against Houston.

Williams, who was acquired from Cleveland in a trade for Baron Davis, injured his ankle in his Clippers debut Monday at Sacramento.

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