PRACTICE REPORT - NOV. 30, 2012
PLAYA VISTA - Clippers guard Chauncey Billups knew he would be sore after playing 19 minutes Wednesday, his first in-game action in nearly 10 months. How sore?
“I felt like I got hit by a Mack truck,” Billups said. “I think it’s probably going to be like this for the first three or four weeks that I’m playing; similar to when guys go to training camp.”
The Clippers had the day off Thursday and Billups was held out of practice Friday morning for precautionary reasons as he continues his comeback from a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered Feb. 6.
“His back was a little bit tight, but nothing serious,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It’s nothing he hasn’t managed through.
“We’re just going to kind of ease him to things in terms of shoot-arounds and practices and as far as the games go.”
Billups played 19:24 with seven points and three assists in Wednesday’s six-point win over the Timberwolves and Del Negro expects to apply a limit of around 20 minutes per game, depending on how the 36-year-old guard feels. If the Clippers had played Thursday that minutes count may have been zero.
“If we had a game yesterday I wouldn’t have been able to play,” Billups said. “Now that I’m back, I look forward to regaining my old form. And I’m going to be very patient with that. Just me being back is a success and a blessing, so I’m going to be happy with that until everything else kind of comes around.”
Still, Billups, who prior to the season was selected in NBA.com’s annual survey of league general managers to mostly likely be a coach in the future, is capable of impacting the game with his presence on the floor.
“I think me just being out there will help the team,” Billups said. “Me being able to lead and do what I do best, I think will be an asset for the team that we have. It’s funny and it’s kind of been my whole thing for most of career, numbers and stats that I have are not indicative of the presence that I have on the court. I could easily get three points and one or two assists and have a huge, huge effect on the game.”
Chris Paul knows as much, too. “He’s a threat in every way possible,” Paul said.” You can’t foul him and send him to the line. You can’t back off of him and let him shoot. He’s everything we need.”
Jamal Crawford added: “He’s an All-Star-type player, a guy who has so much leadership and knowledge. We’re always talking to him and picking his brain. It’s just a great thing to have back out there.”
Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, the dynamic tandem of Clippers guards off the bench, both anticipate having similar roles, despite Billups’ return. Del Negro will likely employ a crunch-time lineup of Paul, Billups and Crawford. And according to Bledsoe, his game will stay the same, a wrecking ball for opposing point guards.
“I still have got to come in and bring energy every night,” Bledsoe said. “Chauncey coming back doesn't change a thing with me."
CRAWFORD PLANS TO GET BACK TO BEING HIMSELF
After an unprecedented nine-game start to the season, in which Crawford scored 20 points or more in six games and was among the league’s most efficient shooters, he has tailed off a bit.
In the last six outings, Crawford is 24-for-72 from the field (33.3%) and averaging just 12.8 points per game. He still leads the NBA in bench scoring at 17.5 points and has scored in double-figures in all 15 games for the Clippers.
On Friday, he said he has been “too passive.”
“I find myself in the corner just waiting on the action, when I have to go make the action happen,” Crawford said. “That’s who I am and that’s what I’ll get back to doing.
“I’m an attacker. I like to keep teams on their heels and keep people on their heels. I want people nervous to guard me.”
Crawford’s role as the primary scorer off the bench is an important cog for the Clippers.
“In the second unit we need him to score the ball,” Del Negro said. “He’s got to be more aggressive with his setups and things and we’ve got to be more aggressive in how to get him open and help him get going.”