HILL PRACTICES WITH CLIPPERS

Grant Hill practiced for the first time in more than two months Monday at the team’s Playa Vista Training Facility.

It was the first time the veteran forward has seen the court in a team-practice setting since early October, when the Clippers spent a week in China during the exhibition season.

“We’ll see how [Hill] does tomorrow in practice and we’ll make that assessment how he reacts to a little more physical contact tomorrow,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said after practice. “He was doing all the drills today and for the past couple of weeks, so he said he feels good. But we’ve got to get him out there with some contact and obviously his rhythm and timing is off, but it won’t take him long.”

The inclusion of the 40-year-old Hill, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise in his right knee for more than two months, was a welcome sight for a Clippers team that has been without star reserve Jamal Crawford for the last two games and starting shooting guard Chauncey Billups (foot) since Dec. 3.

Hill played in two exhibition games against the Miami Heat in China, but was shut down soon after. The Clippers, who are within .017 percentage points of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the league’s best record, have taken a cautious approach with him since.

Del Negro said it is a tough injury to deal with. “You get that bruise in there and, you know, Grant’s got a few miles on him too. We’ve been playing pretty well at times so you know we just want to get Chauncey and Grant and give them as much time as possible and keep the big picture in mind with those guys because we know we’re going to need them.”

Point guard Eric Bledsoe, who is one of six Clippers to appear in all 35 games this season, talked about seeing Hill on the court Monday. “[Hill] is trying to get back so I am kind of working with him a little bit,” Bledsoe said. “He’s looking great.

“He’s a great mentor. He’s been in this league a long time and he’s seen a lot of things. So he’s trying to help me overcome some stuff.”

DOWN TIME

The Clippers returned to the training facility after Sunday’s off day.

“We had a good practice,” Del Negro said. “We’ll get into more things tomorrow, but it’s nice to have a few days between games. We haven’t had that in a while.”

The Clippers have not conducted a full practice since December 12 when the team worked out at Johnson C. Smith University near downtown Charlotte. That was also the last time the team had more than a single day off between games.