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Grant Hill is close to making his season debut for Clippers

Grant Hill might play his first regular-season game with the Clippers as soon as Wednesday. He's been out since suffering a bruised knee in the preseason.

January 09, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Grant Hill could make his regular-season Clippers debut Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks.
Grant Hill could make his regular-season Clippers debut Wednesday against… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Grant Hill is close to finally playing a regular-season game for the Clippers, but whether his debut will be Wednesday night remained uncertain.

The veteran forward, who suffered a bruised right knee in the preseason, worked out with the team at the Clippers' training facility in Playa Vista for the second consecutive day Tuesday.

But after practice Coach Vinny Del Negro said he would not make a decision on playing Hill until the Clippers get closer to their Wednesday night game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

"Let's just see how he feels tomorrow," Del Negro said. Even if Hill sees action, Del Negro cautioned against expecting too much too soon.

"We just got to get him back into game condition and get him accustomed to what we're doing out there, and it's going to take a little while," Del Negro said.

Hill is in his 18th season and, at 40, is the second-oldest active player in the NBA; Knicks forward Kurt Thomas is a day older than Hill. After playing with the Phoenix Suns the last five seasons, Hill was acquired by the Clippers as a free agent in the off-season.

After he finished practice by spending several minutes shooting three-pointers, Hill told reporters, "My knee feels good" but that he was "still working off the rust, and that will take some time."

Following a light practice Monday, Hill said, "Today we went up and down [the court], did some scrimmaging, did some game-like scenarios."

He remained cautious about his return.

"That could be Wednesday, it could be Saturday," when the Clippers play the Orlando Magic at Staples Center, or "it could be next week," Hill said.

"Obviously, I want to play, but sometimes you have to be guarded against yourself," he said. "You don't just sit for three months and throw yourself back out there, that's kind of how you get hurt again."

Jamal Crawford, meanwhile, practiced Tuesday but a decision about whether the guard plays Wednesday also won't be made until shortly before the game, Del Negro said.

Crawford's left foot is hurting and "he's still a little sore," Del Negro said.

"We've got some key guys banged up, so if we had the opportunity to get Grant out there to take some minutes off those guys it might be beneficial," Del Negro said.

Etc.

The Clippers are 27-8 after winning 19 of their last 21 games, but the team is still lacking in some areas, point guard Chris Paul said. "We can still get better defensively and playing for a complete 48 minutes and taking care of the ball and rebounding," he said.

Del Negro agreed, saying the Clippers had "a lot of things" to work on, and "the biggest thing for us is we've got to rebound the ball better on a consistent basis from every position."

james.peltz@latimes.com

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