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Clippers' Caron Butler is ready when needed

CLIPPERS FYI

The small forward plays 30 minutes against the Utah Jazz on Friday night, scoring 14 points.

December 28, 2012|By Broderick Turner

SALT LAKE CITY — Caron Butler is the starting small forward for the Clippers, but his backup is averaging more minutes per game.

But Matt Barnes has been playing so well in the reserve role as Butler's backup that Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro seemingly has no choice but to use Barnes a little more.

It's not an issue for Butler.

"No matter what, I come in on days off and keep my rhythm and keep encouraging the younger guys," Butler said. "It's just staying in the moment. As a professional and being around as a veteran player, you've got to stay in the moment so when your time comes, you're not missing a step."

Butler's time came against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

He played 30 minutes, including the whole third quarter.

Butler had 14 points for the game, and he was very good on defense.

"Your shots are not going to fall all the time," Butler said. "But you've got to stay ready, stay prepared. I'm a creature of habit, and the opportunity came tonight and I capitalized on it."

Odom injures ankle

Lamar Odom injured his right ankle in the first quarter when he collided with Jazz center Al Jefferson.

Afterward, Odom, who also has a sprained left ankle, went to the locker room to get his left ankle retaped and then continued to play.

"What's sweeter than what we just did?" said Odom, referring to the Clippers coming back from 19 down in the third to beat the Jazz. "If I've got to get hurt to win that game, that's how it's got to be."

Barkley on offense

Despite all the winning, Del Negro has found reasons to complain about his team, to talk about the improvements the Clippers need to continue to make.

Well, Del Negro has company.

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has found something about the Clippers that he says needs improving.

"I don't like their half-court offense," Barkley said of the Clippers-Celtics game at halftime Thursday night on TNT. As long as they are running and dunking, they will be tough to beat. But if you slow them down and make them walk the ball up and down the court, I think that's going to be their bugaboo."

Chris Webber left the studio and was part of the TNT crew that called the Clippers' game against Boston at Staples Center on Thursday night.

Webber got to see firsthand what the Clippers are all about.

"I think they can go as far as they want because I really trust Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups and his championship experience," Webber said on the air. "They have so many different lineup options. If they can stay within themselves in the half court, you never know what can happen in a seven-game series."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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