NBA calls it flopping, but Clippers guard Chauncey Billups calls it something else

The NBA warned Clippers guard Chauncey Billups about flopping in the wake of a play Monday night against the Jazz in which he drew a late foul by kicking out his legs and embellishing minimal contact with Utah’s Mo Williams beyond the 3-point arc. Billups made two of three free throws and the Clippers went on to win 105-104.

“They called it a flop and I called it gamesmanship,” Billups said Wednesday.

Billups said he learned from a master, former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller.

“They’re trying to take gamesmanship out of the game,” Billups said of the league’s new crackdown on flopping. “Instincts. You can’t change instincts, you know what I mean? It’s gamesmanship. I worked hard to learn how to get that. I learned that from some great players. I’m not going to let that go. That’s what they’re trying to do. I play how I play. Reggie Miller was one of the greatest I’ve seen at it. Jamal Crawford is one of the best (current players). … Yeah, Reggie was good with that.”

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Chauncey Billups sits out because of an ankle injury

After scoring 22 points on 5-for-15 shooting and adding seven assists in 60 minutes in his first three games of the season, veteran guard Chauncey Billups had to sit out Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.

Billups said his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon was fine, but he’s suffering from peroneal tendinitis in his left ankle. His ankle was so inflamed and weak that he couldn’t jump or change directions adequately during the Clippers’ victory Monday over the Utah Jazz.

The two injuries are unrelated, Billups added.

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with for a couple of weeks, actually, even before I played my first game,” he said. “It was something I really wanted to get checked out because I just feel like I’ve worked way too hard to get back to play hurt, you know what I’m saying?”

“Honestly, in that Utah game it was really painful. I couldn’t really push off my left foot. It was just really weak. I couldn’t explode off it. I couldn’t cut. So, everything I was doing I was just getting through it. I should be better than this.”

Billups underwent a battery of tests, including an MRI exam Tuesday, which revealed the ankle injury. Willie Green started in place of Billups at shooting guard against the Mavericks. Green started the Clippers’ first 14 games, but then didn’t play a second in the next three. He had four points in the Clippers’ 112-90 victory over Dallas.

The Clippers aren’t sure how long Billups might be sidelined.

“It’s up to Chauncey really,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He knows his body better than anybody else. …  It’s kind of day to day, how the therapy goes, how he feels. … When he’s ready to go, he’ll go. It could be this weekend. It could be two weeks or a month. I don’t have a time frame.”

Billups tore his Achilles tendon during a game last Feb. 6 against the Orlando Magic and underwent surgery Feb. 15. It was estimated that he would be sidelined for between nine and 12 months. He made his 2012-13 debut Nov. 28 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Del Negro planned to limit Billups to 20 minutes per game as he attempted to regain his fitness as well as his basketball form. Billups scored seven points against the Timberwolves, six against the Sacramento Kings and nine against the Jazz, never playing more than 22 minutes in a game.

“I think this is just part of the process,” he said. “Frustrating, of course. To come back and then sit back and wait … I know what it is and I respect the process. I don’t feel down at all. Of course I want to be out there. … It’s all about the marathon for me.”

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Lamar Odom getting his groove back for the Clippers

Lamar Odom didn’t come to training camp in very good shape last season with the Dallas Mavericks after they acquired him from the Lakers. He wasn’t in great shape this season after the Clippers got him from the Mavericks in a June 29 trade.

The difference this time is he’s found a comfort zone that includes considerable support from Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. Slowly but certainly, he’s become a useful member of the team’s second unit, recording a season-high seven points in Monday’s win over Utah.

“I just want Lamar to stay the course right now,” Del Negro said Tuesday, the day before Odom faced the Mavs for the first time since the deal. “He’s in here early working out. He’s in here late working out. You can see his timing coming back a little bit. You can see his lift coming back just a little bit. … He’s here every day. He’s grinding it out.

“He knows he has a ways to go, but you can tell when he’s out there he makes a difference for us and it’s only going to get better if stay with the process. I think he’s very comfortable where he’s at. He’s not very comfortable with his game and that’s why he’s out there. We have a lot of faith in him and I think it’s going to pay dividends down the road.”

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Collective effort helps Clippers rout Kings

It was over before you knew it, before many in the crowd had a chance to bite into their hot dogs or take a sip from their drinks, before the Clippers could really flex their muscles in front of the Sacramento Kings.

Caron Butler sank a 3-pointer to break an early tie. DeAndre Jordan soared to dunk a missed shot by teammate Chris Paul a moment later and then dunked a lob pass from Blake Griffin, who sank a hook shot a minute later.

The Clippers were never challenged again and seized a lopsided 116-81 victory Saturday night from the Kings in front of a sellout crowd of 19,060 at Staples Center. After breaking a 6-6 tie on Butler’s 3, the Clippers were unstoppable.

“We didn’t let them in the game early,” Paul said after the Clippers’ widest margin of victory this season. “The ball moved. Everybody touched the ball. We’re pretty dangerous when that happens. Tonight we made shots and got (defense) stops.

“It was collective.”

Playing with an unmistakable sense of purpose, the Clippers did what good teams are supposed to do when they play poor ones. They exploited the Kings’ weaknesses and took away their will to fight by building a big lead and holding it.

The Clippers led by 30-17 after the first quarter, then by 58-34 at halftime before they really warmed to the task. They led by as many as 34 points in the third quarter and held an 87-58 advantage going into the fourth.

It was simply exercise by then, which was fine with the Clippers (10-6). Their second unit got to play extended minutes and their starters got a chance to rest and cheer their teammates. No one in a Clippers uniform was overworked.

Clippers fans, having grown bored with the game, entertained themselves by performing a fourth-quarter wave before heading for the exits. The Clippers led by 101-70 when many in the crowd departed with 5:37 remaining.

Jamal Crawford, a reserve guard, led seven Clippers in double figures with 17 points. Griffin, Paul and backup guard Eric Bledsoe each scored 14 points. Jordan scored 13 points, Matt Barnes added 12 points and Butler scored 11 points.

Marcus Thornton scored 20 points for the Kings, who fell to 4-12 overall and 0-6 on the road. Jason Thompson added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Thornton and Thompson were the only Kings starters to score in double figures.

“I said to the guys, ‘I’ve never played on an Olympic team, but it seems that’s how this is,’” said Crawford, who added a season-high six assists. “Very balanced, guys really unselfish. We have to do it by committee and that’s how we did it.”

The Clippers did all the right things to ensure they would have an easy night. They took the game to the Kings from the opening tip and led by as many as 25 points in the second quarter, playing with equal gusto with and without the ball.

Sacramento seemed befuddled at both ends of the court as the Clippers overwhelmed the Kings with their depth, their skill and a sound game plan. Mostly, the Clippers put their heads down and took the ball to the hoop.

Lob City was open for business with the Clippers scoring 32 of their first 58 points in the paint. There was one significant mishap when Griffin attempted to throw down a lob for a wicked dunk but ended up tossing the ball into the Clippers’ bench.

Griffin was fouled on his misfire, which figured to be a staple on the late-night blooper reels. He made up for it by sinking the ensuing free throws and helping to propel the Clippers to a commanding 58-34 lead by halftime.

“They played at a level that was very high,” Kings coach Keith Smart said of the Clippers. “They have a group of players who play together and they have a bigger purpose with what they are doing and how they are playing, and they show it.”

 

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Clippers continue to monitor Chauncey Billups

Yes, veteran guard Chauncey Billups is back in the Clippers’ starting lineup, playing his second game Saturday night after suffering a season-ending torn left Achilles’ tendon last Feb. 6 in a game against the Orlando Magic.

No, the Clippers haven’t stopped monitoring his recovery from the injury, which figures to be a lengthy process that could last the entire season. They also will keep a close watch on several other nagging ailments.

For instance, Billups suffered minor back and calf injuries that delayed his return to the active roster by several weeks. What’s more, Billups didn’t practice with his teammates Friday simply because he was sore after making his season debut.

“His back is feeling a little bit better,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Del Negro said earlier this week he plans to play Billups only 20 minutes per game for the foreseeable future, with backups Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford forming a backcourt rotation alongside point guard Chris Paul.

“I really think it’s going to be a month or two before I’m back to being myself,” Billups said. “Whatever I am right now, I think what the team needs from me more than anything is knowing how to play and how to win, where the ball should go. …

“Everything else, I’m going to be patient with that.”

Billups scored six points on 2-for-5 shooting in the Clippers’ 116-81 rout of the Sacramento Kings in 18 minutes, 12 seconds. He also had two rebounds and three assists. He had seven in his debut in Wednesday’s win over Minnesota.

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