Chris Paul takes on rehab as next Clippers task

Chris Paul woke up Sunday morning and the healing had begun. Even if the hurt lingered.
“I’m cool,” he said Monday, three days after suffering a separated right shoulder. “It’s one of those situations where it could have been worse. I woke up yesterday and was done feeling sorry for myself. I’ve got to approach the rehab and get back as soon as I possibly can.”
Paul was injured in the third quarter in Dallas and an MRI revealed a grade 3 AC joint separation. The good news for Paul was that surgery won’t be required, but the Clippers said he will be out for as many as six weeks.
When he hit the floor and landed on his shoulder, Paul knew it wasn something he’d be able to shake off right away.
“I was mad, that’s why I slammed my mouthpiece,” Paul said before the Clippers tipped with Orlando at Staples Center. “I felt it when it happened, I could sort of hear it and I knew that it was pretty significant.
“The thing that made me mad too was I feel like as an athlete, you prepare and do everything possible to try to not get injured. That’s all that preparation, that strength training, stretching, everything. That was the most frustrating part.”
Paul is averaging 19.6 points and leading the league in assists with an 11.2 average per game.
What the Clippers might miiss most, however, is the hard-driving competitiveness he brings. The Clippers lost a bit of that earlier in the season when J.J. Redick went out with a broken wrist.
“Oh, you’re going to miss it. We miss J.J.,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “J.J.’s one of the more competitive guys on our team as well. Those are the intangibles people don’t see. Clearly we miss J.J.’s drive and his mean toughness, and now the other guy is Chris, and we’re not going to have that. Those are the intangibles beside the play when you lose a Chris Paul or J.J. Redick.”
On the court, the Clippers will make a go with Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford as the starting guards. Crawford has been starting for Redick, who is expected back within about two weeks.
Meanwhile,the Clippers’ bench, already crowded by perhaps the deepest coaching staff in the NBA, one more voice will be heard.
“I’m going to be there every game, sitting out there,” Paul said. “I couldn’t sit out there at San Antonio because I didn’t have a blazer because I wasn’t expecting to get hurt, but I’ll be there every game, every night cheering and talking to the guys, but also being respectful because it’s one of those things where it’s tough to be that voice and that leader when you are in a suit.”
Rivers had a chance to talk to Paul and the the coach quietly enjoyed the reaction Paul had.
“A lot of my friends and family reached out to me,” Paul said. “Everybody was like ‘Everything’s going to be all right, you’ll come back stronger and tougher. I’m one of those people like ‘Right now, it’s not all right,’ honestly, because I want to play and I feel like I need to play.
“You just want to be out there to help your team. Now it’s about doing everything possible day in and day out to get back. And I always say rehab is a lot harder than playing.”
Rivers said the MRI exam result was more of a relief that he didn’t lose his All-Star for longer. Then he went into coaching mode.
“The one thing I told him is we can’t get this injury back, it’s happened,” Rivers said. “Let’s try to look at this that it’s a blessing you’re going to have fresh great legs for the stretch run. That’s the only way you can look at it.”

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