Hedo Turkoglu makes his Clippers debut

NEW YORK -- Hedo Turkoglu walked around the visiting locker room at Madison Square Garden talking to teammates and assistant coaches before his playing debut with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, which also marked his first NBA action in nearly a year.

Turkoglu was signed by the Clippers for the rest of the season Thursday morning before the team boarded a charter flight to New York to begin a 12-day, seven-game trip against the Knicks.

"We're going to dress him," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "He doesn't know anything we're running that we went over in the ballroom today, but he's been in the league long enough. If we put him in, I'm sure he can figure it out.

"He can shoot. He can extend the floor. He's a playmaker from the four position and that's where we plan on using him the most."

Indeed, Turkoglu was subbed into the game for the first time in the second quarter Friday.

Turkoglu, who was cut by the Orlando Magic earlier this month, had not played this season and was involved in only 11 games last season because of injuries and a 20-game suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"I'm blessed to put this jersey on and be a part of a great organization," Turkoglu said. "I'm really excited. A little bit nervous but excited.

"You face certain things in life no matter what. I just go from there. This is part of the business you have to face, but you just have to put that behind and trust that someone will give you a chance."

The Clippers brought in Turkoglu for a meeting and a workout last week and liked what they saw so much that they parted ways with point guard Maalik Wayns to sign him.

"They're a great team with a lot of great players," Turkoglu said. "The way they approach the game and their mindset after bringing in Doc, they really want to win. In my career I've always played good with great coaches, and I knew somehow I'd get an opportunity with Doc."

Turkoglu said he was approached by several teams after becoming a free agent but always wanted to sign with the Clippers.

"I've been in the league 14 years and I want a ring before I retire," Turkoglu said. "I felt this was the best fit for me to reach that."