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Chris Paul leads team with nerves of steal

Clippers FYI

The Clippers are first in the NBA in steals, and they have three players ranked in the top 35 in the league in thefts. It all starts with Chris Paul.

November 17, 2012|By Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times
  • Chris Paul forces Spurs guard Tony Parker to turn the ball over.
Chris Paul forces Spurs guard Tony Parker to turn the ball over. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

When teams face the Clippers, they have to be careful with the basketball or they could wind up with a turnover.

The Clippers are first in the NBA in steals, averaging 10.25 per game entering Saturday night's game.

The Clippers have three players in the top 35 in the NBA in steals.

Chris Paul is ranked sixth in the league, averaging 2.25 steals per game.

Reserve guards Jamal Crawford (1.5) and Eric Bledsoe (1.5) are among the league leaders.

"It starts with Chris, obviously," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's always a league leader in steals. But defensively, we're just trying to get a lot of deflections, hands on basketballs."

Del Negro talked about how the second unit with Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Crawford and Ryan Hollins are so active on defense when they are in the game.

"Our second group, they do a real good job with the tempo and pressuring," Del Negro said. "We're just trying to use the depth, and guys have been stepping up and that's getting us out in the open court and it makes the game a little bit easier for us."

Del Negro said they also keep track of deflections during the game.

He said a good number of deflections is 30 or more.

"The extra-effort plays are always big on our chart list," Del Negro said.

No timetable for Billups, Hill

At some point this season, Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill will return to play after overcoming their injuries.

When that happens, Del Negro said it won't be an issue to incorporate Billups and Hill into an already deep team.

Billups is recovering from Achilles' tendon surgery and Hill from a bruised right knee.

Del Negro said there is no timetable for either player's return.

"Well, Chauncey will start in the backcourt," Del Negro said. "I'm not sure when he'll be back. It's kind of his call when he feels comfortable."

Billups has been involved in contact practices the last few weeks, but Del Negro said his 6-3 guard has " had a couple of setbacks with his calf and his back and things. But he's feeling great."

Del Negro said Hill will return later than Billups.

"We'll just work through it when they come back," Del Negro said. "You're talking about two guys that know how to play, know the big picture and are more than capable of accepting their roles, and they are going to be contributors on our team."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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