Billups returns for Clippers with big pass
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Clippers needed Chauncey Billups.
He’s not a star anymore, and the team has the NBA’s deepest roster. But the Clippers needed Billups because he’s “Mr. Big Shot,” because he’s an NBA champion, because he’s a 16-year veteran.
Billups returned to the lineup Wednesday in a 101-95 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had missed more than nine months with a torn Achilles tendon in his left foot. His arrival was timely, as Los Angeles had lost four in a row.
“I was just so excited to be back after such a long time,” Billups said. “I’ve only played full court like three times since the injury, so knowing that, I’m trying to be patient with myself. It’s going to take a little while. I got back pretty far ahead of schedule. To be honest, I was going to be back before this, but there were a couple of small setbacks, which was expected, because I had to recalibrate my body for playing an intense level of basketball.”
Billups’ statistics were meager: seven points, three assists, one steal two turnovers and 1-for-5 shooting in 19 minutes. But he started. And, boy, did he finish.
With the Clippers’ lead cut to two points and about 20 seconds left, Billups brought the ball up the court knowing the Timberwolves wouldn’t foul him because of his free throw shooting. And with most of the players on the court trailing the play, he showed his veteran guile.
From about 30 feet away from the basket, Billups lobbed one up for center DeAndre Jordan, whose alley-oop finish with 16.6 seconds left sealed the win for the Clippers.
The Timberwolves, who have their own key star back in the lineup as Kevin Love had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, fouled Clippers point guard Chris Paul twice, but he hit all four free thows to finish with 23 points and 11 assists and finish off Minnesota.
“There’s nothing like a real live game,” Billups said. “I’m sure I’ll be sore in the morning, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be like that for the first week or two. It’s kind of … [For more on Chauncey Billups returns for Clippers with big pass, win, click here.]