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Clippers pull through despite Eric Gordon reinjuring wrist

Eric Bledsoe has a career-high 20 points while Mo Williams gives offense a boost in the victory over the Nuggets.

March 05, 2011|By Baxter Holmes
  • Clippers guard Eric Gordon goes in for a layup just before Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov knocks him out of the air while committing a foul during the second quarter Saturday night at Staples Center.
Clippers guard Eric Gordon goes in for a layup just before Nuggets center… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Next time anyone on the Clippers says anything about being healthy, they would be wise to knock on some wood.

Their last three days were a celebration, practically, as the Clippers finally had enough physically sound bodies on the bench.

The return of leading scorer Eric Gordon sparked that merriment but it ended Saturday against Denver when Gordon aggravated the right wrist injury that forced him to miss 18 games recently.

Gordon hit the floor hard late in the second quarter of the 100-94 win in front of 19,060 at Staples Center after being fouled by Denver center Timofey Mozgov and Gordon did not return.

Without him, the Clippers were able to hang on in the fourth quarter to get their second straight win and just their fourth victory in their last 17 against Denver.

Gordon stayed down for about a minute before leaving for the locker room, holding the wrist that he injured in a fall Jan. 22 against Golden State.

He not only sprained his wrist in that fall, but a bone chip fracture was also found.

It's unclear how much longer Gordon, who scored five points in 14 minutes Saturday, will be out. The Clippers are 4-16 without him this season.

It's a good win, but obviously a tough one just because Eric Gordon will be out now," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He'll stay back here. He's got a bone fracture, a bone chip. Don't ask me the correct [terminology]. The words are too long for me to pronounce. Ask Jasen Powell, ask the medical staff. But he will be out.

"How long, I don't know. But it's just real frustrating. I feel bad for Eric, but other guys are gonna have to step up.

Gordon returned Wednesday for the first time since that injury and scored a game-high 24 points — matching his season average — to lead the Clippers to a 106-103 win against Houston.

"I don't think its as bad as it was when I first hurt it," said Gordon, who hopes to have a better timetable for his return on Sunday. "The pain level is not as bad as it was, but its re-aggravated so its going to take some time. ... It's frustrating."

The Clippers (23-40) have been plagued by injures all season.

Entering Saturday, a total of 141 combined games had been missed by players with injuries this season.

Chris Kaman had missed 45; Craig Smith 28; Gordon 20; Randy Foye 18; and Brian Cook and Baron Davis had each missed 15 games.

When Gordon left at the 5:05 mark in the second quarter, the Clippers led by 15 largely on the back of a 16-4 run that spanned two quarters.

In the second half. Denver whittled the Clippers' double-digit halftime lead to a 52-52 tie in third quarter.

In the fourth, leading by one with 7:31 left, the Clippers went on an 11-3 run to lead by nine heading into the final minutes.

They were able to hang on thanks to some late three-point shots by Eric Bledsoe and Mo Williams.

Blake Griffin had 18 points and 12 rebounds, his 53rd double-double this season. He also had a career-high nine assists.

In helping replace Gordon, reserves Foye added 13 points and Bledsoe scored a career-high 20.

"You never want to see your teammate go down, but you've got to be ready," Foye said. "That's why its called a team."

Williams, playing in his third game for the Clippers after arriving from Cleveland for Davis, scored 17 for the second straight game.

For, the New York Nuggets, uh, the new-look Nuggets (37-27), the loss ended a four-game winning streak.

Denver had won five of six since trading Carmelo Anthony and four players to New York for four players, including three Knicks starters, draft picks and cash.

But the Nuggets didn't come close to matching their league-best scoring average (107.5).

The Clippers shot 35 for 47 (47.3%) from the floor while Denver shot 40 for 103 (39.2%).

Nene scored 25 points and 14 rebounds for Denver and Raymond Felton had 18 points off the bench.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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