Matt Barnes, who last played for the Clippers on Nov. 18, was cleared medically and in uniform fro Wednesday’s game against New Orleans.
Nearly a month after undergoing a procedure to repair a torn retina in his left eye, Barnes was ready to don some protective goggles to get back into a game, though Coach Doc Rivers wasn’t planning on having him in Wednesday’s game.
“Hate ’em. I don’t like anything on my face,” Barnes said of the goggles, which he’ll have to wear for about two weeks. “It’ll be something to work through, but anything to get back on the court.”
Barnes, naturally had to endure some good-natured ribbing about the goggles from his teammates.
“It’s just good to be back,” he said. “I’ve been out of the mix for almost four weeks now so whatever they can dish I can take . . . but I’d wear anything just to get on the court.”
Rivers hopes to take advantage of two days off to get Barnes, who had missed 15 games entering Wednesday’s game, going again.
“He was allowed to run (only) like three or four days ago,” Rivers said. “We have back-to-back practice days coming up so I’m hoping to be able to use him in practice then get him back on the floor.”
The Clippers confirmed the worst-kept secret in the league and signed forward Stephen Jackson on Tuesday night. They just sent their press release.
Jackson, 35, spent the 2012-13 season with San Antonio and played in 55 games. The 13-year veteran has averaged 15.3 points for his career.
Presumably, he will be in uniform Wednesday night in Boston when the Clippers face the Celtics.
Chris Paul returned to the lineup, but the Clippers had to begin life without J.J. Redick for awhile Sunday.
They also appeared to wait for a while to join the regularly scheduled game that was already in progress.
The Clippers recovered from a slow start but couldn’t hit the one shot or grab the one rebound that could have made the difference Sunday in a 105-100 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
“Well, we have to compete for 48 minutes,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought in the second half we joined the game, and then it was a game.”
It was the energy of the reserves that brought the Clippers back from a 14-point deficit. It was Jamal Crawford denying a pass to Paul George, coming up with the steal and getting the ball ahead to Darren Collison for a dunk to tie the game at 94-94 with 4 1/ 2 minutes left.
Yet they gave the lead back immediately and were fighting back again until a shot by Paul went in and out with 31.9 seconds left, then the Clippers couldn’t pull down a rebound and were twice forced to foul and the Pacers put the game away at the free-throw line.
“I was mad at myself that I missed two shots,” Paul said. “I try to pride myself on end-of-game situations, knowing the time to score and put yourself in a position to win. I know if I make one those shots, a seven-second differential in the game clock, we could have gotten a stop and had a chance to win the game.
“I was just disgusted with myself because I got the shot that I wanted.”
Paul missed Friday night’s game at Sacramento with a hamstring strain and got some extra ice treatment on the leg during the fourth quarter, but he said he was fine.
Meanwhile, the Clippers were without Redick, their energizer guard who is now out 6-8 weeks with a broken bone and torn ligament in his right hand.
And the Pacers brought the league’s best record to a West Coast road trip and emerged with a 16-1 record behind Paul George, who had 27 points and David West, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds. Center Roy Hibbert added 19 points and eight rebounds.
“They came in with a purpose,” Rivers said of the Pacers. “This was their first game on the West Coast trip and you could see their seriousness at the beginning of the game. They were locked in and we were not.”
Jamal Crawford came off the bench to lead the Clippers with 20 points. Paul played 34 minutes and had 17 points and 10 assists, Blake Griffin had 16 points and 12 rebounds and the bench provided 44 points and defensive energy.
Yet the Clippers had only enough to catch the Pacers, not pass them.
“I didn’t think we did a good job of competing in the first half,” Griffin said. “Our second team did compete in the first half, in the second quarter they did a great job.”
Indiana jumped out to an 11-point lead, the but the Clippers caught and passed them to take a 41-40 lead in the second quarter. That lasted about 20 seconds, or as long as it took for George to hit a 3-pointer.
West’s jumper at the halftime buzzer after an offensive rebound gave the Pacers a 53-47 lead and served as a bit of an omen of what was to come.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Crawford said. “A play here, a play there could change the complexion of the game. We got off to a slow start for whatever reason and then we got it going in the second quarter. In the third quarter we started a little bit slow and got it going in the fourth.
Willie Green got the start in Redick’s place but scored only two points in 15 minutes. When the Clippers were on the comeback trail in the final period, Crawford joined the four starters.
“It’s going to take come getting used to,” Crawford said of playing without Redick, who was averaging 15.8 points. “Obviously, J.J. has been having a great season. I said time and time again he is one of the better starting 2 guards in the league and we have a flow within that starting unit.”
The Clippers will now embark on a seven-game road trip back east that begins Wednesday in Atlanta.
“We can learn a lot about ourselves, how we approach each game, not thinking about the next one, always thinking about the first one,” Paul said. “I always say you can’t win ’em all without winning the first one.”
Clippers guard J.J. Redick is out for about two months and might need surgery on his right wrist, but the veteran is looking at the brighter side of his impending shift on the sideline.
“I have enjoyed these 17 games I got to play immensely,” Redick said. “I love this team and I love playing for Doc (Rivers) , so it’s very frustrating. But I’m an optimistic person and I look for the good in every situation and I’ve already started thinking about all the positives two months from now. Mentally I’ll be finsaid e.”
Redick broke the pisiform bone and suffered a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. He will see hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin on Monday.
“It’s an upper body injury so I can stay in great shape and get in even better shape cardio-wise,” Redick said. “While most guys’ legs are going to be tailing off toward the end of January, I’ll have fresh legs. A couple of coaches said it’ll be like trading for somebody right before the all-star break. I’m hoping I have five more months of basketball to play this season.”
Redick was hurt when he was spilled by Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins while going for a rebound. Redick said the play, which was whistled as a foul on Cousins, was not beyond a hard foul.
“When your momentum’s carrying you somewhere and you’re completely suspended in the air, any little nudge will get going in an opposite direction,’ Redick said. “Unfortunately, it twisted me around a little bit, got me parallel to the floor and I fell.”
Redick said he has already recovered from a broken wrist at ages 7, 13 and 22 and trusts that however this injury heals, he will be able to recover completely.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I trust the specialist. Dr. Shin has operated and seen a bunch of guys in the league so he knows what he’s doing, and I trust our training staff. I’ll be back soon.”
J.J. Redick, who took a hard spill Friday night, will be out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in the small bone of his right hand and a tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
Redick’s injury will be re-evaluated on Monday by hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin. Redick is averaging 15.8 points per game this season and had fit seamlessly into the starting lineup.
“It takes out something that’s been huge for us offensively,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s home game against Indiana. “J.J.’s movement, like I’ve been saying all year, is an offense in itself. And we are setting up a lot of offense off his movement to get to something else.
“He’s one of those guys that when he goes out, it changes a lot of what we do. We’re going to have to do it on the run. We don’t have a lot of time to prepare for the non-J.J. minutes going out on the road.”
The Clippers begin a seven-game Eastern road trip in Atlanta on Wednesday.