MINNEAPOLIS — When TNT announced the starters Thursday for the NBA All-Star game, it didn’t come as a surprise the Clippers had Chris Paul and Blake Griffin named to the Western Conference team.
Paul, who missed his third straight game Thursday night at Minnesota because of a bruised right kneecap, was picked to start in the backcourt alongside Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
Griffin was picked to start in the frontcourt with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and the Lakers’ Dwight Howard.
Paul and Griffin are big reasons why the Clippers have the second-best record in the NBA.
Paul is averaging 16.8 points, 9.7 assists and an NBA-best 2.62 steals per game.
Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring (17.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.4).
“They deserve it,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Blake is having a fantastic year. You’ve seen a lot of growth in his game. He’s one of our leaders, and Chris as well. Both of them are having fantastic years.”
Butler, Paul injury update
The Clippers have been listing Paul as day to day, and he has missed the last three games.
Paul was walking better Thursday and probably will play against the Washington Wizards on Saturday at Staples Center or on Monday at Golden State.
“Man, I hope so. I hope to play on Saturday,” Paul said. “I promise I hope so.”
Caron Butler injured his right foot against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night and had X-rays, which showed no damage.
Butler, who played 22 minutes 30 seconds and had 12 points against Minnesota, said he was somewhat nervous when the injury occurred.
“Just initially,” Butler said. “I was making a plant and going one way and changed directions and I felt a little discomfort. After I got the X-ray, I was fine, because it wasn’t a big deal.”
Butler’s role change
With Paul and Chauncey Billups (tendinitis left foot) out, Butler has seen his role expand with the Clippers.
Butler is the starting small forward, but it has not been uncommon to see him play some shooting guard or even power forward.
“I play two, I play three. [There have] been cases this season where I’ve played the four to stretch the floor a little bit,” Butler said. “Anything can happen. We can put a lot of different lineups out there. Sometimes we have Matt [Barnes] at two, me at three, Lamar Odom at the four, Blake at the five. You see a lot of different lineups and some of the things that we have walked through and talked about, at some point, those lineups are out there together.”