Just when Steve Blake was beginning to settle in as the Clippers’ point guard, here comes Baron Davis.
The veteran could reclaim his starting spot Monday night at Staples Center against the Charlotte Bobcats after sitting out the previous two games because of a sore lower back.
Davis practiced Sunday but said he still lacked some explosiveness. He said he initially suffered the injury against Memphis on Jan. 12 but continued to play for the next month with the Clippers clinging to faint playoff hopes and several of his teammates sidelined by injuries.
But his back became so bothersome after a loss against Golden State nearly two weeks ago that Davis was unable to get out of bed the following morning and board a flight to Dallas for the All-Star festivities. He tried to gut it out against Portland on Tuesday before deciding he needed some rest.
Blake has filled in capably since being acquired in a trade from Portland, with 21 assists and six turnovers in two games. He said his comfort level has increased in only a handful of practices.
“When you learn the plays, you understand where you can get guys the ball that need the ball,” Blake said.
The sixth-year guard seemed adept at putting the ball in the right spot against Sacramento on Saturday, finding DeAndre Jordan with an alley-oop pass for a dunk and Eric Gordon with a similar feed that resulted in a layin.
“He makes plays that make our players better,” Clippers interim Coach Kim Hughes said.
Though Blake will probably relinquish the starting duties to Davis, Hughes said there will be times when the duo could play together, with Davis shifting to shooting guard.
Gooden to go
Drew Gooden donned a uniform Saturday, if only for a meet-and-greet session with the media and a few promotional photos. The newest Clipper then changed into street clothes and watched his team defeat Sacramento from behind the bench.
Hughes said Gooden told him he wasn’t ready to play against the Kings, but the power forward said Sunday that his coach “wanted me to get a practice in. . . . I haven’t played in two weeks. I just wanted to get the body back broken in before I step out there.”
So it was Hughes’ decision?
“Yes,” Gooden said.
Gooden is expected to make his Clippers debut against the Bobcats and could play a significant number of minutes, Hughes said. Gooden will battle Jordan and Craig Smith for the starting power forward position.
Small forward Travis Outlaw could also play in his first game as a Clipper on Monday, alleviating the need for Rasual Butler, Gordon and Blake to each play 40 minutes as they did against Sacramento. Hughes said he envisioned Outlaw playing between 20 and 24 minutes. . . . Among the congratulations Hughes received after his first NBA coaching victory Saturday was a one-word text message: “Finally.” “I didn’t like that one too much,” said Hughes, who had lost his first five games. “I wasn’t too appreciative of that.”