Clippers power forward Blake Griffin tries to protect the ball from the… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)
PORTLAND — After a very light practice on Friday, Blake Griffin said he was feeling better after retweaking his left ankle in the first quarter of Thursday night's game at Phoenix.
Griffin did some shooting at the practice, and the team said the All-Star power forward is expected to be in the starting lineup Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Griffin said he first injured his left ankle against the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
With Chris Paul expected to miss his sixth game with a bruised right kneecap, Griffin may have to do even more for the Clippers.
At least that's what TNT analyst Charles Barkley thinks.
He has to "impose [his] will on the game," Barkley said during the telecast of the Clippers' loss to the Suns. "He's got to go out there night after night and say, 'I'm going to kick the guy's butt I'm playing against.'"
Still, despite the Clippers being 32-12, Barkley is not sold on the Clippers being championship contenders.
"The Clippers can't even impose their will on a bad team," Barkley said while the Clippers were losing to the Suns. "Their half-court offense is not very good."
Clippers offense evolving
With Paul out, it has forced Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro to make some changes to his offense.
Eric Bledsoe is the starting point guard replacing Paul, but Bledsoe doesn't have the savvy Paul does to run the offense.
"Now that Bledsoe is more with the starters, obviously it's a different package," Del Negro said. "That changes things coming off the bench. We're trying to get Jamal [Crawford] off the ball a little bit so that he can score the ball and we try to use Grant [Hill] a little bit as a point-forward. Or Lamar [Odom] and Blake at the elbow [free-throw-line corners]. So, yeah, we've had to make some changes just because of the injuries right now."
Jordan often absent in fourth
DeAndre Jordan is the starting center for the Clippers, but he averages just 24.2 minutes per game, fifth on the team.
Jordan hardly plays at all in the fourth quarter of games. His minutes usually go to Odom.
Sometimes Jordan is not in the game in the fourth because of matchups, such as when an opponent plays two power forwards and doesn't have a center.
And sometimes Jordan is not in the game in the fourth because Del Negro still doesn't have faith in his big man to be productive during the game's most tense moments.
"He has to show aggressiveness," Del Negro said. "He has show commitment, energy, consistency. He has to work every day at it, and having the right mind-set to be a consistent contributor for us. I don't question that he had some good minutes [against Phoenix], but I expect more."