By Phil Collin
His game-by-game scoring totals were starting to look like the beginning of a phone number — 769-78 …
And then Chauncey Billups officially announced his return to the Clippers on Wednesday. Two 3-pointers in the first quarter, two more in the second and after the Clippers polished off Houston, Billups had 19 points on nine shots with no turnovers in 20 minutes.
As much as it might have been a luxury to have Billups has a player liaison on the bench as his Achilles’ tendon healed, taking his leadership to the court with that kind of production can only make the Clippers more dangerous.
In fact, starting alongside Chris Paul, it’s like the Clippers have two points guard and two off-guards on the floor at the same time.
“It takes pressure off everybody,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He can get Chris off the ball a little bit, Chris can get more live dribbles. He makes great decisions, he spaces the court. He knows time and score.
“When he shoots like he did tonight, it gives us another weapon so it was great to see him out there. He didn’t turn the ball over in almost 21 minutes. He knows how to play, he’s been there, done that. It’s great to have him back.”
Billups was a game-time decision with a sore lower back, so whether he can return to the lineup tonight against the Lakers remains to be seen. He’s still working his way into game shape.
“I’m waking up muscles that haven’t worked in a long time,” Billups admitted afterward.