Clippers forward Blake Griffin says he's ready to return after knee procedure

DENVER -- Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin said on Saturday that he's ready to return to action, and he expects to take the floor during the team's current road trip.

"I'm as close as you can feel," Griffin said in his first public comments since he underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from his right knee on Dec. 20.

Griffin will miss his 17th consecutive game on Saturday night when the Clippers meet the Nuggets in Denver. The team has compiled a 9-7 record while he has been sidelined.

On Friday, Griffin participated in his first full-contact workout since the operation, matching up with teammates Brice Johnson and Alan Anderson prior to the team's flight to Denver.

"It was good to get some real work in besides just running and shooting," Griffin said. "Now it's kind of up to them."

Sources say the most likely return date for Griffin is Tuesday night at Philadelphia. Following their game at Denver, the Clippers fly to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Monday night.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he anticipates Griffin performing another battery of drills when the team arrives in Atlanta on Sunday. With consultation with the training staff, the team will continue to evaluate Griffin's progress in order to determine a date certain for his return.

"We just want him to go through a couple more [workouts] before we play him," Rivers said.

Griffin said that if were the timetable up to him, he'd play on Saturday night in Denver. He said he has been lobbying the Clippers staff for weeks.

"I've been putting pressure on them since December 21," Griffin quipped. "It's kind of a team decision."

"This trip -- this is it," he added.

As Griffin rehabilitated the knee in recent weeks, he said that his lateral mobility and ability to pivot have been the greatest challenges defensively, and his capacity to attack offensively has been another point of emphasis in workouts.

Prior to the injury, the five-time All-Star was averaging 21.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season on a true shooting percentage of 54.3 and a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.32.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, suffered on Monday night in a win over Oklahoma City in Los Angeles. He is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks, and is not with the team on the current road trip as he recuperates.
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