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Clippers' Caron Butler inspires teammates in Game 3

The forward plays 22 minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in the first-round of a playoff series while nursing a fractured left hand. Butler was supposed to be out for four to six weeks.

May 05, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Caron Butler, guarded by Memphis' O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, played Game 3 of the Clippers-Grizzlies playoff series with a fractured left hand.
Caron Butler, guarded by Memphis' O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, played… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Chris Paul thought Caron Butler was "crazy" for playing in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against Memphis with a fractured left hand.

Paul also said he had to commend Butler for gutting out 22 minutes of pain Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.

Butler was injured in the third quarter of Game 1 in Memphis last Sunday night. He didn't play in Game 2 and was supposed to be sidelined four to six weeks recovering from the injury.

But Butler practiced Friday and decided to play Sunday.

"He is crazy," Paul said. "He is crazy, seriously."

Butler, who wore a black brace on his hand, had just four points, but it was more than that. It was his presence that inspired his teammates.

Paul said he had talked to Butler on Friday and saw him come to practice with his hand wrapped up in "a little contraption" and found out he was going to play.

"I was like, 'What are you doing?' That was my first thing," Paul said. "But, man, I commend him. It would have been so easy for him to say, 'I'm done. I'm going to take care of my hand and I'll be ready next year.

"But that's one thing Coach [Vinny Del Negro] said before the game. 'If he can fight with pretty much a broken hand, what can the rest of us do?' He didn't play but so many minutes tonight. But just his energy and just his toughness is something that I think motivated the rest of us. That is unreal to see the pain he went out there with and was playing through."

Free throws a big issue

During the regular season, the Clippers were the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA, making just 68%.

So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that they are still just as bad in the playoffs.

They missed 17 of 30 free throws (43.3%) in Game 3.

Paul was asked about his team missing so many free throws.

"Who did?" Paul said, joking. "We did?"

Yes, the Clippers did, something Paul was asked whether he was concerned about.

"Oh, yeah, that's very concerning," Paul admitted. "But we'll get through it. We've got practice tomorrow. The guys that went to the line, I would give it to them in a heartbeat and let them shoot it any day of the week."

The Clippers were three for nine from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

"I think that just shows even more how much fight we have, to miss that many free throws and still come out with the win like that," Paul said. "But we know to get to where we want to get to, that's unacceptable."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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