Baron Davis (knee) out vs. Spurs
LOS ANGELES -- Clippers point guard Baron Davis missed Monday's 97-88 loss against the San Antonio Spurs with a sore left knee. Davis missed the first two weeks of training camp with the same injury and is officially listed as day to day.
"He has some issue with his knee he's been fighting through for a while," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said before the game. "He has some swelling in there and we're going to monitor it."
Davis said he felt soreness in his left knee after Sunday's game against the Dallas Mavericks but didn't know how bad it was until he arrived at Staples Center before Monday's game.
"It happened after the game Sunday. I just limped out of here not really paying attention to it," Davis said. "I kept icing it and it flared up. I woke up this morning and I couldn't really bend my knee the way I wanted to. I didn't pay attention to it but I spent three hours in therapy and when I got to the arena I tried to do some layups and I was lacking some explosion."
Rookie guard Eric Bledsoe started in place of Davis, and had nine points and three assists in 39 minutes. Shooting guard Eric Gordon handled the ball more for the Clippers, posting a career-high 11 assists to go with 23 points. Los Angeles was already playing without backup point guard Randy Foye, who is expected to be out one to two weeks with a strained left hamstring. The Clippers also activated rookie guard Willie Warren for the first time Monday to complete their 12-man active roster with Davis and Foye out. Davis said he believes the injury will keep him out for only one game and expects to be back in the starting lineup when the Clippers play the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on Wednesday.
Del Negro, who criticized Davis for being out of shape at the start of camp, believes Davis' offseason conditioning played a part in his injury.
"Baron knows he was behind in his conditioning and he's had to work so hard to get in condition that he's had to put some extra strain on his knee," Del Negro said. "That causes a lot of problems for everybody; for Baron, for the team, for everyone involved. He needs to be a leader and a catalyst for this team and by not preparing the right way he's hurting himself and hurting the group and he knows that. He needs to do a better job in that area. He needs to grow and he needs to get smarter about it. He's not 22 anymore. He's 31. He's got to do a better job in the offseason of keeping himself in condition and understanding his responsibility."
While Davis initially disregarded Del Negro's comments, he later admitted for the first time publicly that he wasn't in shape when he arrived at training camp last month and said he underestimated the extra work he had to put into conditioning as a 31-year-old point guard playing in his 12th NBA season.
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"I usually get in shape in August," Davis said. "I've been doing that for the last six years of my career. This August I started working out and getting ready to go and it got a lot harder. It wasn't like I wasn't doing anything but my body wasn't responding as quickly as it usually does and I think I kind of faced that reality this summer. That was a problem that hit me and kind of caught me off guard because it never really happened to me before in my career. Getting in shape was never really a problem for me before but these nagging injuries have taught me a lesson. This summer was a dose of reality that I need to start training differently and earlier."
Del Negro believes Davis can once again be the player he was for the Golden State Warriors -- for whom he averaged about 20 points and 8 assists per game and led the team to its first postseason in 13 years -- if he can get in shape. Davis' conditioning has been a problem since he signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers two years ago.
"Baron's focus needs to be on conditioning and playing at a high level and he hasn't done that for a while," Del Negro said. "I know he's frustrated with that but there's things he has to do to correct that ... but talking about it and doing it are two different things and we've talked about that situation plenty. Now it's up to Baron to make that commitment to get back into shape and get back with the team and be a leader and a catalyst for the team in the right way. It's up to him."
Davis didn't score until midway through the third quarter of the Clippers' 99-83 loss to the Mavericks on Sunday, finishing with nine points and hitting just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Davis has struggled during the Clippers' 0-3 start, averaging 10.3 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 32.4 percent from the floor. He joked about his struggles when explaining why he couldn't play Monday night.
"I wasn't in a position for me to be effective on the floor," Davis said. "Not that I've been very effective the first three games anyway."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.