-- LOS ANGELES -- LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin could return from a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament as soon as Friday, when the Clippers face the Los Angeles Lakers, according to coach Doc Rivers.
"Will he play tonight? No. Will he play the next game? He actually could," Rivers said in his pregame availability Tuesday. "He's that close. I didn't say he would. I said he actually could."
Griffin participated in shootaround ahead of Tuesday night's home win over the Sacramento Kings. He worked with assistant coach Sam Cassell on pick-and-roll drills while shooting jump shots and finishing aggressive drives with dunks.
After the win, Rivers added: "I just know his work ethic has to have something to do with it. He gets a lot of heat for getting injured, but no one gives him credit for getting healthy. He works his butt off like no one I've ever seen.''
Teammate Austin Rivers was glad to see Griffin healthy enough to ramp up things up during the shootaround.
"Yeah. I haven't seen him do a lot of live stuff, just one-on-ones, so I think that's good to see," he said. "It's always encouraging to see some guys who haven't been able to play get back out there."
The Clippers initially set the timetable for Griffin's return at eight weeks. He last played on Nov. 27 in a win over the Lakers, a game he left after becoming tangled with Clippers guard Austin Rivers and Lakers guard Lonzo Ball in pursuit of a loose ball.
Before being sidelined, Griffin, who signed a new five-year, $173 million contract during the offseason, was averaging 23.6 points per game with a true shooting percentage of 54.2, along with 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists.