Z-Bo will travel

Just caught up with Zach Randolph in the locker room tonight and he said that he’s planning on traveling with the team on its upcoming road trip and could play Monday.

Randolph said that he still has a little pain in his knee (bone bruise), but that he wants to play on it and see how it responds. His return has also been delayed by a bout with the flu.

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Thornton and Gordon picked for rookie-sophomore game

Clippers rookie Eric Gordon and second year forward Al Thornton were selected to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam February 13 at the All Star Game in Phoenix.

Averaging 17.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, Thornton currently ranks second in the NBA amongst second year players in scoring. Gordon is currently ranked fourth among all rookies in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game, however in 13 games played in January, Gordon has averaged a rookie high 21.5 points in 41.2 minutes played per game.

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Why Eric Gordon should be in the rookie game

What rookie wall? If anything Clippers’ rookie Eric Gordon has gotten better as this season has gone on. After pouring in a career-high 41 points in Friday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Gordon is fourth among rookies in terms of scoring at 13.5 points a game though.

But while most of the more heralded rookies ahead of him have seen their averages stagnate or drop this month, Gordon’s game has soared. He’s averaging 22.6 points a game in 11 games in January, best among NBA rookies.

Rookie scoring leader O.J. Mayo (19.1 ppg) has scored just 16.6 points a game in January. Derrick Rose is also under his season average (16.7 points a game) this month, scoring just 14.7 points a game in 12 January games.

Only Russell Westbrook has shown similar improvement throughout the season, increasing his scoring average in each month this season.

Perhaps more importantly, Gordon has earned the respect of his veteran teammates with his attitude, effort on defense and willingness to take big shots at the end of games.

Recently veteran center Marcus Camby even stuck his neck out for the rookie, arguing that the stocky shooting guard should be getting a lot more love from officials around the league.

“I think Eric gets fouled a lot when he goes to the hole,” Camby said. “I think the referees see how they see how big and aggressive he is, so he doesn’t get the benefit of the whistle.

“Yeah it’s a rookie thing. They may say it doesn’t exist, but it exists. Hopefully as we go on through the season, he can start getting that respect and have it carry over year after year, because I know he’s going to be in the league a long time.”

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Baron will be in Golden State

Yes, Baron Davis is scheduled to be in Oakland with the team Sunday for its first game up in the Bay Area this season. He just likely won’t be in uniform after suffering a little setback this week, trying to work himself back into shape.

So those who bought tickets for his big return will at least get to wave at him and see what color scarf he’s wearing.

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More Baron

I was able to catch up with Baron Davis before today’s game, the most extended conversation he’s had with the media in the last month or so. Anyway, in addition to the column I filed, here’s a few extra quotes from BD.

After avoiding the spotlight for a few weeks, Davis was very candid before Wednesday’s game and, dare I say, even a bit chipper. He spoke about this season, his injuries, and his reaction to criticism that he’s been out too long with his latest injury.

“The rush is to play. At a certain point, you have to stop paying attention to your record and play when you can. For me, the first opportunity I get to play, I want to get out there.

“I wanted to play in the Minnesota game. I was like just give me 10 minutes coach, that’s all I need is ten minutes. Not being able to do something you do every day of your life is tough, no matter what the record is.”

When asked how he felt about criticism that he’s taken a while to come back from his latest injury, Davis calmly defended his record.

“A lot of you don’t know but a lot of my career, I played in games being hurt. You go back to my days in Charlotte when I played with cartilage in my knee, playing with herniated disks in my back for the entire season,” Davis said. “Me playing hurt is something that I’ve always done. but as you get older, you become a little bit wiser and you understand, do you want to miss five to seven games, or do you want to miss 40 games.

“I’ve got thick skin. The people who know me, the people who’ve been around me. you could ask our trainers how hard I work, how much I want to be out there on that floor.”

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