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CLIPPERS FYI

Blake Griffin thinks Clippers can contend for championship

With the playoffs approaching, Griffin says the Clippers need to finish the regular season with a sustained effort.

April 09, 2013|By Broderick Turner

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It was an interesting question that prompted Blake Griffin to pause before he answered.

The Clippers have won the most games in franchise history (51-26) and have won the franchise's first Pacific Division title.

Still, Griffin was asked after practice on Tuesday how he thinks the Clippers are viewed by fans, the media and their NBA brothers.

"To everybody else, I don't know," Griffin said. "To us, we feel like we're a team that's capable of contending for a championship.

"We're not afraid to see any team in the playoffs. That's where we are. We're not really worried about what everybody else is wondering [about] what we are or where they are going to put us as far as being able to contend with the top teams."

The Clippers are the fourth-place team in the Western Conference and are still contending with Denver and Memphis to see who will be seeded third, fourth and fifth in the playoffs.

But the key to it all, Griffin said, is to have a sustained effort during the last five regular-season games.

"We're nothing without consistency," Griffin said. "But it's more about the effort given and it's more about the intensity that we have. ... If we're consistently mediocre, that's not a very good thing."

Billups still out

All the Clippers know the value of having Chauncey Billups in the lineup.

Though he participated in five-on-five practice on Tuesday, he is expected to miss his sixth consecutive game because of a strained right groin.

Billups has made big shots during his 16-year NBA career. He has run teams as the starting point guard. He has a calming influence on his teammates.

In the 20 games he played this season, Billups at times ran the show, allowing Chris Paul to move off the ball.

"Chauncey brings a whole different dynamic to our team," Paul said. "It's the way he shoots the ball, end of games, foul shooting, ballhandling. I think everybody also around the league almost fears Chauncey to a certain extent. They know he's not afraid to make or take big shots."

Griffin injury update

Griffin said the swelling in his left calf "is down" and the bruising is gone, leaving him the healthiest he has been in a while.

Griffin said he hopes his injured leg, which has seemed to hinder him somewhat, is back to "normal by next week."

"I tried to ignore it, to be honest," Griffin said. "But looking back, compared to how it feels now to before, it's a world of difference. But it's tough to say how much it was affecting me."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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