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Chauncey Billups gives Clippers a big shot in playoffs

CLIPPERS FYI

It's the favorite time of the year for the veteran shooting guard, who hopes to provide leadership and scoring against Memphis.

April 20, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Chauncey Billups has earned the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for his ability to perform at the highest level during the playoffs.
Chauncey Billups has earned the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for… (Michael Nelson / EPA )

As the sixth-ranked active player in playoff experience with 140 postseason games, Chauncey Billups is finally in position to increase his total.

Billups has faced roadblocks the last two years of his playoff career, but he's healthy again and playing for the Clippers against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round Western Conference series that began Saturday night at Staples Center.

He missed the playoffs last season with the Clippers because he was recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles' tendon.

When he played for the New York Knicks during the 2011 playoffs, Billups injured his knee in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics and missed the rest of the postseason.

"So this a treat to be back and playing at my favorite time of the year," Billups said. "I look forward to trying to take advantage of it."

Billups is a 16-year veteran who won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He was named the Finals' most valuable player for his performance against the Lakers.

His poise during the playoffs earned Billups the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for his ability to perform at the highest level during the game's most tense moments.

His career playoff average is 17 points on 41.3% shooting, 36.7% from three-point range and 89.4% from the free-throw line.

"I think I bring a lot of stability to the team," Billups said. "With my experiences, I think that guys pull from that confidence from what I've seen and what I've been through.

"They trust me. I just kind of tell them how I feel and not how I think they want to hear it. I think a lot of guys respect that from me. They probably don't like it sometimes. But that's kind of the way I was taught. I know it worked for me. And I think that they need that from me and that's the role that I play."

Billups played in only 22 regular-season games this season because of various injuries. But, asked if this would be his last playoff run, he said, "No, not at all."

Since his return from a right groin strain to play in the final two games, Billups' minutes have been limited.

But the playoffs are a different story.

"I think my minutes will increase," Billups said. "We're going to do whatever it takes to win."

Clippers' rotation won't change

The Clippers have one of the deepest teams in the NBA, which has allowed Coach Vinny Del Negro to play 10 players throughout the regular season.

Del Negro said that won't change in the playoffs.

Fans can still expect to see reserves Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins play against Memphis.

"I think we have a unique team," Del Negro said. "I think we'll stay with the way we've been playing. … I have confidence in all of our guys."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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