Clippers point guard Chris Paul watches from the bench in street clothes… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Chris Paul has been working out, doing a lot of drills, testing his strained left hamstring to see whether it is ready to cooperate.
But Paul wasn't ready to play Sunday, sitting out his fifth consecutive game, this time against the Toronto Raptors.
Coach Vinny Del Negro said Paul worked out Saturday at practice and that the All-Star guard "feels great."
But Del Negro said the "smart, prudent thing to do" was to not rush Paul back.
"There's a protocol that guys have to go through, in terms of injuries and things," Del Negro said. "We went through that [Saturday] in terms of his workout and conditioning. He felt good. It's just that I think we have to be smart about the process.
"Chris understood how hamstrings are and that was explained to him. We just felt that was the best way to go right now."
The Clippers have two days off before they play the Lakers on Wednesday as the home team.
The Clippers won't practice Monday, but Del Negro said he'll work out Paul.
Then the Clippers will practice as a group Tuesday. At that time, Del Negro said they'll decide whether Paul will play Wednesday night, and if he does, whether Paul's minutes will be limited.
Del Negro said he consulted with the team's doctors and with trainer Jasen Powell and they all felt it was better to bring Paul along at "the pace we all feel comfortable with."
"Chris is ready to play. He wants to be out there," Del Negro said. "But he also knows that he hasn't had this injury before and he wants to be smart about it as well. He understands."
Del Negro said Paul didn't have a tear or any swelling in the hamstring, but there was "a lot of irritation."
More practice time
The Clippers have yet another week in which they play only three games.
In fact, it's the third time this season the Clippers have four days off to practice and work on becoming a more cohesive unit.
Besides Toronto and the Lakers, the Clippers play host to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
"Obviously, you'd like them, at times, spread out depending on injuries and depending on health," Del Negro said. "And then sometimes they jump on you. But if you look at our schedule, there's a lot of games coming up and they are going to come at us quick."
Starting Sunday, the Clippers will play five games that week, including twice on two consecutive days.