Eric Gordon starts in return from injury
He made sure his return from a right wrist injury was triumphant, scoring nine of his 24 points in the final 4:46 as the Clippers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 106-103 victory.
"It just felt natural for me to get to the basket," Gordon said afterward, adding that the 18-game break was the longest he's ever sat out in his basketball career. "But it's all about how the defense reads you: If it's a good shot, then take it; if it's not, then pass it up and drive it to the basket.
"I just tried to come out and play well and do the things I know how to do."
Gordon, 22, played 35 minutes in his first game back since suffering the injury in the second quarter of a Jan. 22 home win over the Golden State Warriors, although he returned to action in the second half of that game and then exited again because of a back injury.
He said Wednesday the back healed up within a week. The wrist issue is still bothering him plenty, though, and he sounded Wednesday as if he had simply come to grips with playing with the injury.
"At this point, all I can do is build it up," Gordon said before the game. "I know there's going to be pain there for the next couple months.
"I think it's probably time where I can tolerate it enough to shoot."
Asked whether he thought his shot would be limited in his first few games back from the injury, Gordon said he wasn't sure.
"That's something that I'll always think about, but probably not," Gordon said before the game. "I'll just be going to the basket a little bit more, but I'm still going to be shooting jump shots."
Over the five-week span Gordon was out, the Clippers went 4-14. During his three-year career, the Clippers are 10-32 in games Gordon misses due to injury.
"Eric is a huge part of our team, our leading scorer, and he's had a fantastic year up to his injury," Del Negro said Wednesday. "We need to get him back on track here in the last 21 games."
Newly acquired point guard Mo Williams also started Wednesday's game despite tweaking his ankle during Monday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. Williams had 17 points and 11 assists in 31 minutes against the Rockets.
Williams and Gordon have yet to practice together.
Pedro Moura is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.