LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Clippers are sweating on the fitness of All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who aggravated an ankle injury during a first-round playoff loss to Memphis on Tuesday that leaves the team on the brink of elimination.
Griffin was withdrawn during the third quarter of the 103-93 loss and is now questionable for Game Six tomorrow with the Clippers 3-2 behind in the best-of-seven series.
The Los Angeles big man was originally hurt during a Monday practice when he jumped and landed on the foot of team mate Lamar Odom.
“It’s just an unfortunate thing, a freak accident,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told reporters following his team’s latest setback in the series.
“As the game went on, (the injury) got worse and worse. He was struggling to move in the third a little bit and that’s when I just pulled the plug.”
Griffin, a dynamic presence known for his highlight dunks, was grounded by the injury and could only manage four points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Following the game, he said he was not certain whether he would be able to play tomorrow and his physical condition would likely to be limited even if he could.
The Grizzlies have won three consecutive games against Los Angeles to move into the driver’s seat with the penultimate game in Memphis.
Though the outlook appears bleak for the Clippers, they can draw on the experience of last season’s first-round series when they overcame the Grizzlies with a Game Seven triumph in Memphis.
“We’re not going to lay down,” Del Negro added. “We know we have to play better. We need more production from everyone.”