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Clips’ Griffin cleared to return, begins 4-game suspension

March 28, 2016
Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin has been medically cleared to return to the Los Angeles Clippers and will immediately begin serving a four-game suspension for punching their assistant equipment manager, the team announced Sunday.

Griffin, who has not played since December, practiced with the Clippers on Saturday. He was cleared by the team’s doctor before Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

“He looked great, but he had no endurance, as far as his wind,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “As far as just playing basketball, he was terrific. It’s amazing, though, watching what three months does as far as memory goes. As far as sets and timing, that wasn’t pretty.”

In terms of conditioning, Rivers said, Griffin still has a long way to go.

“Honestly, I don’t know if you can get him in condition to play 30-35 minutes right away,” he said. “My guess is right now we’re going to start him. The question more importantly is how many minutes in a row can he play. If you went by yesterday, it would be three.”

Griffin will sit out the game against Denver, along with games against Boston, Minnesota and Oklahoma City. The Clippers imposed the four-game suspension after the forward punched assistant equipment manager Matias Testi in Toronto on Jan. 23.

He missed 41 games because injuries.

After a 94-84 victory over the Lakers on Dec. 25, the Clippers announced Griffin would miss time because of a partially torn tendon in his left quad. He also suffered a broken hand requiring surgery when he punched Testi.

Griffin becomes eligible to play again on April 3 against Washington.

“(Getting him back) means a lot,” Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute said. “He’s our best player. We’ve been trying to hold things down until he gets back. It took longer than we thought. Having him back really helps our team. He means so much, not just scoring, but his presence, too.”

Griffin has averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 30 games this season.