Clippers guard Willie Green content with his limited role

One of these days veteran guard Chauncey Billups will be sound enough to return to the Clippers’ starting lineup and Willie Green will take a seat on the bench. If all goes as planned, Billups will play significant minutes and Green will be a cheerleader.

Green won’t say a word in anger. He won’t complain about his reduced role.

That’s simply not his method of operation.

“We all have to do our parts,” Green said before scoring nine points Thursday in the Clippers’ 106-77 beat-down of the Boston Celtics when asked about the inevitable move from starter to backup when Billups recovers from ankle tendinitis. “Great teams become great because everybody knows their role.”

Green was something of a surprise choice to fill in for Billups, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear last February and didn’t make his 2012-13 debut until Nov. 28. Billups started three games and Green didn’t play a minute in any of them.

When tendinitis flared in his ankle, Billups returned to the sideline and Green became a starter again. Green’s production isn’t what the Clippers expect to get from a healthy Billups, but somehow he and the team have made it work en route to a league-leading 22-6 record going into Thursday.

“There is something special going on here and we all have to do our parts,” said Green, who went into Thursday’s game averaging only 5.9 points and 1.5 rebounds. “There’s still a lot of room for improvement. It’s still early in the season.”

There’s no timetable for Billups’ return to the active roster, which means Green will continue in his role for the immediate future. Green has played with damaged knee cartilage, something Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro takes into account when assessing the veteran guard’s production.

“Willie’s a pro,” Del Negro said. “He’s solid on the court and off the court and in the locker room. He gives us what he can. I think that’s one of the reasons we wanted him (in a trade last July 30 from the Atlanta Hawks). No one knows when Chauncey’s going to be back.”

So, Green has the job until Billups does return to the lineup.

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Eric Bledsoe makes his mark on another Clippers victory

Eric Bledsoe had his hand in another Clippers victory, this time a 102-83 win Sunday afternoon over the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. That wasn’t exactly front page news, as far as the Clippers were concerned.

“I really think he’s going to be a star,” teammate Chauncey Billups said before Bledsoe scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and added six assists in the Clippers’ sixth consecutive win. Billups also called Bledsoe “a freak athlete,” adding, “I haven’t see many players with the athleticism he has. I see something new from him every night.

“It’s a gift from God.”

Bledsoe always had the physical part within him, as evidenced by his raw skills.

What’s new this season is his ability to think the game a little better.

“Experience is always the best teacher,” said Billups, a guard playing his16th season in the NBA.” I can tell him to look for this. Be ready for this. Or they’re going to do this. He’ll come back and say, ‘Dang, Chauncey, you know what they did?’ And I’ll say, ‘I told you to look for it.’

“The more minutes he plays, the more situations he’s in, in games, he sees it for himself. Because he’s waiting on it. Maybe he missed it. (But) he’ll pick it up and he won’t get beat again. It’s been a joy to see his development.”

Bledsoe, who turned 23 on Sunday and is playing his third season with the Clippers, continues to develop a sound earth-bound game to go with his high-wire act. His perimeter jump shot, like teammate Blake Griffin’s, is something of a work in progress.

“When he gets more consistent with it, he’s going to be impossible to guard,” Billups said. “He’s going to be a nightmare matchup. You get right up on him, and he’ll just go right by you.”

Point guard Chris Paul put it this way: “I play against him every day in practice. When you get in a game and it’s not ‘EBled’ on you, it’s almost like you’re in a rocking chair.”

 

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Clippers don’t expect Chauncey Billups to play this weekend

The Clippers have learned to play, and thrive, without veteran guard Chauncey Billups in the lineup. They would rather have him on the floor, no question, but they’re accustomed to having him out of uniform after he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon injury last Feb. 6. He played three games only to suffer from tendinitis in his left ankle that was so severe he sat out Wednesday’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers, 12-6 and riding a four-game winning streak, don’t expect him to play Saturday against the Phoenix Suns or Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

“He was here and he got his therapy,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said after Friday’s practice.

Is there a timetable? Could Billups play Saturday? a reporter asked Del Negro.

“Not that I know of,” Del Negro said.

How about Sunday? the reporter asked.

“Not that I know of,” Del Negro. “Listen to the doctors and the trainer, let him get his therapy and when he’s ready to go, he’ll tell me.”

 

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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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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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Clippers end losing streak in Chauncey Billups’ return

Chauncey Billups couldn’t lift the Clippers on his shoulders and carry them to the end of their four-game losing streak all alone. Chris Paul couldn’t do it by himself either. Neither could Blake Griffin nor could DeAndre Jordan.

They had to do it together.

Billups gave the Clippers an emotional boost in his first game since suffering a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury last Feb. 6, and he, Paul, Griffin and Jordan banded together for a 101-95 victory Wednesday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Like I told the guys going into the fourth quarter, ‘It’s all a test, a test of your character,’” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I was proud of the way we managed the fourth quarter and made plays when we had to, offensively and defensively.”

Billups scored seven points, all in the first quarter, in 19 minutes, 24 seconds. He also had three assists, including a 35-foot lob pass to Jordan for a spectacular highlight-reel dunk that gave the Clippers a 97-93 lead with 16.6 seconds left.

“I was just so excited to be back out there after such a long road back,” Billups said. “I probably played full court three times. I have to be patient. I wasn’t going to hear the word, ‘No,’ or, ‘He’s done.’ I wasn’t going to listen to none of y’all.

“As long as we won the game, it’s a success for me.”

Paul put the Clippers ahead for good with a jump shot that gave them an 86-85 lead with 4 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the game. Griffin hit a jumper moments later and then dunked off a feed from Jordan to make it 90-85 with 3:02 left.

After the Timberwolves’ Nikola Pekovic countered with a three-point play, Jordan converted a three-point play of his own to restore the Clippers’ five-point lead with 59.4 seconds remaining.

Paul scored 23 points and added 11 assists, Griffin scored 18 points only one game after he had a career-low four, and Jordan added 15 points. Matt Barnes scored 13 points and Jamal Crawford had 11 to lead the Clippers’ rejuvenated second unit.

Kevin Love, a former UCLA standout, scored 19 points on 3-for-12 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Alexey Shved added 17 points in a reserve role and Luke Ridnour had 13 points and seven assists.

“It was huge to have Chauncey out there,” Paul said. “After player introductions, I went to him and said, ‘I’ve been waiting a long time to have you back out there, so lets go.’ To see him back on the court, doing what he does best, is remarkable.”

Billups said it would be months rather than weeks before he regains his form.

“I’m not what I was the day I got hurt,” he said.

After starting the season with eight victories in their first 10 games, the Clippers went off the rails in a big way. They lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Brooklyn Nets, the Atlanta Hawks and the New Orleans Hornets.

Losing was bad enough, but it was the way they lost that gave Clippers Nation pause. The Clippers were up and down and all around in all facets of the game during their skid. What’s more, their energy came and went too frequently.

“We have to be more consistent,” Del Negro said when asked before Wednesday’s game how his team could avoid a fifth consecutive loss. “We know that. We have to get our energy back.”

Billups did his part, scoring the Clippers’ first basket, a 3-pointer on his first attempt since he was injured in a game against the Orlando Magic almost 10 months ago. He scored seven of the Clippers’ first 11 points.

“I got back pretty far ahead of schedule,” Billups said. “Right now, I feel good. I played 20 minutes, but there’s nothing like a game. I feel like I’m in decent shape, but there’s noting like a real live game. I’m sure I’ll be sore.”

 

 

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Chauncey Billups to return to Clippers lineup tonight against T-Wolves

Chauncey Billups will make his season debut tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers announced today on their website. Billups hasn’t played in a game since tearing his left Achilles’ tendon during a game Feb. 6 at Orlando.

“We are all excited to have Chauncey back,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told reporters at the morning shootaround. “I know how hard he has worked to get to this point and we are looking forward to incorporating him into the lineup.”

Billups will start at the shooting guard position, rejoining point guard Chris Paul in the Clippers’ backcourt. Willie Green, who started the season’s first 14 games in place of Billups, will shift to a reserve role.

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Chauncey Billups closer but still not ready to make Clippers season debut

One of these days veteran guard Chauncey Billups will tell Clipeprs coach Vinny Del Negro everything is fine at last with his Achilles tendon and he’s ready to play in his first game since he was injured in a game last Feb. 12 against the Magic in Orlando.

It’s expected to happen sooner rather than later, with CBSsports.com reporting last week Billups was targeting a return to the active roster sometime in the first week of December. Del Negro said there remains no timetable for Billups’ return.

“That’s my CBS report for you,” Del Negro said.

Billups is scheduled to practice with his teammates today.

“He’ll be ready when he says he’s ready to go,” Del Negro added.

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Chauncey Billups conflicted about return from Achilles injury

Chauncey Billups told a newspaper reporter Wednesday there was no timetable for his return to the active roster after suffering a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury last February. Then he said during an ESPN interview he’d be back in a month.

So, which is it?

Billups hedged.

“I said both of them,” the veteran guard admitted before the Clippers faced the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. “So, you can write both of them.”

Officially, the Clippers have no target date set for Billups’ season debut.

Unofficially, Billups can’t say when he’ll play because he can’t say.

When he’s sound enough to play, he’ll play.

“That’s the beast about it,” Billups said after a pregame workout.

There’s little doubt the Clippers missed Billups’ steady influence during an up-and-down start to the season that featured an average of 18.8 turnovers going into Wednesday, far too many to suit coach Vinny Del Negro.

“The basketball is valuable and you have to control it,” Del Negro said.

Then he included Billups’ absence as one of the reasons for the Clippers’ sloppy play during victories over the Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers and losses to the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers to start 2012-13.

Del Negro asked the remarkably athletic Clippers to play at a faster pace this season, but they’ve been too frenetic at times during their first four games. He also would like them to be more disciplined and make better decisions with the ball.

Willie Green started in place of Billups at shooting guard Wednesday for the fifth consecutive game. Billups is expected to slide into Green’s spot when he’s ready to play, with Green moving to a reserve role.

When that is, is anyone’s guess, however.

“It’s coming,” Billups said of his slow but steady rehabilitation and recovery.

Asked about Billups’ conflicting pregame statements, Del Negro shrugged and said, “There’s no timetable, but it could be earlier.”

–Vote of confidence for Odom

Lamar Odom, a versatile backup forward, played only four minutes during the Clippers’ lackluster loss Monday to the Cavaliers and scored two points on 1-for-2 shooting with two turnovers. He had zero rebounds or assists.

Odom was sidelined for the better part of three weeks during training camp because of sore knees, but Del Negro said he’s healthy now and that wasn’t the reason for such limited minutes in Monday’s game.

“He has to get in better condition and he has to learn what we’re doing out there,” Del Negro said. “He knows that. We’ve got to get him in a good rhythm out there. I have confidence in him and his teammates have confidence in him, and he knows that.”

Odom went into Wednesday averaging 2.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.5 turnovers in 12.3 minutes. He hadn’t played more than 20 minutes and hadn’t scored more than five points in a game in his first four contests.

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